TODAY |

Thirsty kiwi dying of dehydration while struggling through hot, dry summer in Northland

Northland farmers are being told to leave out shallow dishes of water for thirsty kiwi as the region sizzles in a hot, dry summer.

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Low rainfall and high temperatures are forcing the native birds to leave the bush to try and find food and drink. Source: 1 NEWS

Low levels of rainfall in the area are forcing New Zealand's native bird to leave the bush in search of food and drink, and it's putting their lives in danger.

One unsuccessful kiwi died of severe dehydration, lost as night turned to day.

"She got out into the middle of a paddock [and the] sun comes up. She didn't know where to go. She curled up in a ball and the sun just dried her out," Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre's Rob Webb told 1 NEWS.

Mr Webb has already had five dehydrated kiwi in his recovery centre. Two have died but he hopes the rest will be okay.

Kiwi dig their beaks into wet forest floors to forage for bugs, which are their food and a source of water.

But rainfall levels have been some of the lowest on record in parts of Northland and the floor is now rock hard.

Now kiwi are heading into the open, exposing them to predators like stoats.

"The dry weather is during the breeding season of the brown kiwi. We have chicks looking for food," Kiwi Coast's Ngaire Sullivan told 1 NEWS.

"They have smaller bills so they can't probe as deep as the adults… so everything's just ending up like an African waterhole.

"You've got the species you want to protect in the same place as the predators that want water and can see an easy food source right there."

The nocturnal birds are also having to forage for longer - for some, it lasts into the day.

"You put the bird into the sun and feel it after five minutes, you feel them and their feathers are hot," Mr Webb says.

"It's like walking into the heat with a big winter coat on all done up."

Conservationists are expecting chick numbers to take a hit this season but there are ways to help.

"If you've got a water trough, a bath, put some rocks in there just to make sure if a kiwi gets in, it's able to get back out again," Ms Sullivan says.