Views #1485 | Intermediate (B1)

Birds Don't Fly

Rachel talks about the many flightless birds of New Zealand.

Todd: So Rachel, you said that in your home country, New Zealand, there're lots of birds that don't fly?

Rachel: Yes, there are a lot of birds that don't fly.

Todd: Wow, so I only knew of the kiwi and of course the penguin, but I didn't know of other ones. So first the kiwi. It doesn't fly, right?

Rachel: That's the famous one.

Todd: Right.

Rachel: They don't fly but they can run very fast. I've seen them.

Todd: Like and are the kiwi all over? Like are there different types of kiwi?

Rachel: Yeah, there are several different varieties. They're very rare though, and they're nocturnal.

Todd: Oh, nocturnal.

Rachel: I'd say most New Zealanders have never seen one in the wild. I've only seen them in Kiwi parks.

Todd: Oh, really.

Rachel: Yeah, you don't see them.

Todd: So, I thought they'd be like kangaroos in Australia, or something like you go and there's one.

Rachel: No, they're very precious and very rare. One that you see more often is the pukeko which is ... it looks a little bit like a stork I suppose except it's dark blue.

Todd: What's it called?

Rachel: Pukeko.

Todd: Pukeko.

Rachel: Ah, yeah, and they're a lot more common. And takahe is another one

Todd: So the first one ...

Rachel: You can see them along the side of the road. When you're driving through the countryside they're much more common.

Todd: So this pukeko, does it fly?

Rachel: No, they don't fly.

Todd: Really, and it's like a stork. It has long legs?

Rachel: It has quite long legs. Yeah, it a very cute little bird, but it's very dark.

Todd: How tall is it? Like up to your knee? Up to your hip?

Rachel: Up to your knees.

Todd: Really.

Rachel: Cute little bird.

Todd: That's awesome. So what was the other one you mentioned?

Rachel: Takahe. It's very similar looking to that one. It's a little different. It's difficult to tell apart.

Todd: Really, and it's also kind of dark blueish.

Rachel: Yeah, another one's a kakapo. A very famous one. It's New Zealand's flightless green parrot. It's kind of like a large fat parrot that lives on the ground.

Todd: Really.

Rachel: It's extremely rare. I'm not sure what the numbers are now, but around twenty years ago I think there were only 45 left

Todd: Oh, that is rare.

Rachel: Extremely rare, so there's an intensive breeding program for them, and of course nobody's seen those in the wild.

Todd: Yeah, you have to be careful or it'll go like the way of the Tasmanian tiger.

Rachel: Yeah, they breed and they nest on the ground. They lay their eggs on the ground, so they're very vulnerable to introduced predators, to any animals.

Todd: Yeah, I know that, you don't have snakes, but I know that snakes when they got into Guam they like decimated the bird population.

Rachel: Yep. That's what would happen and that's why New Zealand immigration customs is very strict about what kind of animals you can bring in. We don't even have snakes in zoos.

Todd: That's smart.

Rachel: Michael Jackson famously came to New Zealand in the 1980's and wanted to bring his pet snake with him and he wasn't allowed to.

Todd: Oh, good on you.

Rachel: There were no exceptions to that rule.

Todd: Are there any other birds that don't fly? For example do you have penguins?

Rachel: Oh, yes, there's lots of penguins in New Zealand.

Todd: In the south right?

Rachel: Yeah, in the south. Oh, they come up to the north sometimes.

Todd: Really, that far north?

Rachel: Yeah, occasionally. The big colonies are down south.

Todd: Ah, that's amazing. How cool. Any other birds that don't fly?

Rachel: Not that I can think of off the top of my head. I'd have to look it up on the Internet.

Todd: No, that's still though ... that's quite a few. That's so nice.

Rachel: The most famous was the moa of course.

Todd: The moa?

Rachel: Which is an ostrich sized bird.

Todd: Oh, really.

Rachel: Yeah, but they were ... they were killed off before Europeans arrived in New Zealand.

Todd: Oh, easy hunting.

Rachel: They were easy hunting. Yeah. And a big feast.

Todd: It's funny how when you go to a place, you really want to see like a local animal, so last year I went to the Middle East. I went to U.A.E and Oman, and I just wanted to see a camel. I wanted to see a camel so bad, and I thought like I'd go down the road..

Rachel: Everyone drives a Mercedes these days.

Todd: and there'd be a camel, and I was kind of going out in the countryside. I wasn't just in the city, and I never saw a camel, and I was asking people that work there, and they're like, "yeah, you do see them" but I was just so heartbroken that I never saw a camel.

Rachel: Ooh!

Todd: It's one of my favorite animals. I just think they look so cool, so when I go to New Zealand, I have to make sure I see a kiwi.

Rachel: But you'll have to go to the kiwi house.

Todd: The Kiwi House.

Rachel: The Kiwi House it's called. Or just look up zoos.

Todd: And they got 'em?

Rachel: Yep, they got 'em there. But you won't just see them driving around.

Answer these questions about the interview.
Audio Lessons about Phrases and Vocabulary



The birds are nocturnal.

Animals that are nocturnal are active at night and sleep during the day. Notice the following:

  1. Owls and bats are nocturnal.
  2. Nocturnal animals hunt at night.



There is an intensive breeding program.

Breeding refers to controls animals features through mixed mating. An intensive breeding program tries to increase an animals population through increased births. Notice the following:

  1. There is an intensive breeding program for tigers.
  2. Many animals were bred to be the way they are.



They're very vulnerable to predators.

When something is vulnerable, it is easily at risk to harm or danger. Notice the following:

  1. If you're very tired, you're vulnerable to making mistakes.
  2. Teens are vulnerable to online marketing.



They decimated the bird population.

When you decimate something you destroy it or harm it to a severe degree. Notice the following:

  1. The storm decimated the town.
  2. The fire decimated the forest.



There were no exceptions to that rule.

An exception allows someone to be excluded from a rule. Notice the following:

  1. You must not be late. No exceptions.
  2. Everyone must wear a tie. No exceptions.

Vocabulary Quiz

nocturnal • breed • vulnerable
decimate • exception
  1. People with poor diets are to health problems.
  2. The birds fly south to and nest their eggs.
  3. Many animals are so people rarely see them.
  4. Everyone is coming with the of Bob.
  5. The construction of new houses will the natural scenery.

Related Video - One Minute English

Cover Image
Video 1485
What animals do you like?
More English Listening Lessons for Language Learners
1485 Rachel
1485 Birds Don't Fly
The birds of New Zealand
1484 Rachel
1484 Pests and Predators
An animal issue in New Zealand

1483 Jin
1483 Death to Email
How communication is changing
1482 Jib
1482 Phone Addictions
Can you live without your phone?

1481 Jin
1481 Best and Worst Gifts
Gifts people love and hate

Looking for more?

Get More Lessons Here >>

Courses for Students and Teachers

One Minute English Videos

Views English Lessons

Mixer English Lessons

Learn Academic English with News Stories

About the Teacher / Creator

Hello, and welcome to elllo. My name is Todd Beuckens. I've been an ESL teacher for 25 years. I created elllo to provide teachers and students free audio lessons and learning materials not usually found in commercial textbooks.
Contact Me Here