Eudyptula minor J. R. Forster, 1781, Dusky Sound, South Island, New Zealand.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Fairy penguin, little blue penguin, white-flippered penguin; French: Manchot pygmйe; German: Weissflьgelpinguin, Zwergpinguin; Spanish: Pingьino Pequeсo.
15.7–17.7 in (40–45 cm); weight 2.2 lb (1 kg). The smallest penguin; male larger than female. Indigo-blue above, white below. Eyes are gray to hazel. Stout black bill is slightly hooked. Feet are white above with black soles. Juveniles similar to adult but smaller and with slimmer bill; plumage brighter than that of adults.
Southern coast of Australia; coastal New Zealand; offshore islands.
Temperate inshore waters; often seen in bays and estuaries. Often breeds in secluded bays, promontories, or islands, often at the base of cliffs. Prefers flat areas with protective vegetation. Nests in burrows but also under rocks, in caves, and under mounds of tussock-grass. Has adapted to nest around humans, including under houses and in culverts, and will also use artificial burrows. Require the shelter of burrows or rocks or bushes during molt.
Colonial; adults reside at breeding sites year-round. Typically forage within 0.6 mi (1 km) of shore but may travel farther. Mated pairs stay together year-round. Roost alone or in pairs, often in burrows. The most nocturnal of all penguins. Calls include short yaps, grunts, trilling, and braying.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Prefer small fish or cephalopods. When swimming underwater, a bird will circle a school several times and then plunge through its middle.
Both parents dig the burrow and build the nest; they also share incubation and feeding duties. Nest built of grass and other plant material. Two eggs laid over three to five days. Parents accept eggs other than their own and have been seen to incubate stones, golf balls, and teacups. Chicks are brooded for 10 days and are guarded for another 10–21 days.
Not threatened; however, populations described as stable or decreasing. Housing developments and farmland have replaced many breeding areas. Face predation from introduced foxes and dogs; also, livestock trample nesting sites and rabbits eat protective vegetation around nests. Erosion and run-off from agriculture affects marine water quality, which can reduce food supply and also increase rates of disease.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Little penguins returning from a night’s fishing form a parade that is a popular tourist attraction on resort beaches.
Copyright © 2016-2017 Animalia Life | All rights reserved