Kiwi. That's the name New Zealanders use when referring to themselves and to their country. No, it's not the fruit we know in the USA (although it is that, too,) but rather the name borrowed from the bird that’s their national symbol. Yet, when you ask New Zealanders why they selected this particular bird to represent them, many are baffled. After all, the Kiwi bird is hardly a symbol of anything. For starter, it is flightless, which means that its wings have long been atrophied into useless flappers.
Second, the bird is not even particularly pretty: its streaked colors of medium to dark browns are also dominant in males, unlike so many birds whose males sport fancy feathers…. Then, the Kiwi’s backside not only lacks a tail (!) but its broad and rounded derierre reminds me of some 60 years-olds I know.
Did I mention that the Kiwi sleeps for 20 hours a day, and in the 4 in which it is awake, it never utters a sound? No joyful chirping, no serious cawing. And this bird is so lethargic that even when it is awake, it hardly bothers to procreate. Hence its numbers are quickly diminishing, especially since it has also failed to develop a better eyesight or hearing that would have protected it from predators such as cats, ferrets and possums—all introduced to the islands by man.
Oh, well. As I am leaving wonderful New Zealand and its multi-faceted culture, people, fauna and flora, I am also saying, Good-Bye, Kiwi.