Catarrhactes antipodes Hombron and Jacquinot, 1841, Auckland Islands.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
French: Manchot antipode; German: Gelbaugenpinguin; Spanish: Pingьino de Ojos Amarillos.
22.0–30.7 in (56–78 cm); female weight 9.3–15.5 lb (4,200– 7,500 g); male 9.70–18.7 lb (4,400–8,500 g). The only penguin with yellow eyes; band of yellow feathers extends from one edge of mouth to the other, passing through the eyes and around the nape of the head. Head feathers are yellow with a central black streak; back and tail are slate blue; flippers are darker blue; and breast and belly are white. Long slender bill is red-brown above cream shading to red-brown below. Pale pink feet turn magenta with exertion. Juveniles lack yellow band of feathers around nape.
Endemic to New Zealand and nearby smaller islands. Most birds winter on or near the breeding grounds.
Breed in coastal areas of southern New Zealand and neighboring subantarctic islands. Birds stay near breeding sites year round, except for juveniles that move north to feeding grounds for a few months after fledging. Nest from sea level to elevation of 820 ft (250 m) on sea-facing, forested slopes and cliff tops, usually amid dense forest vegetation. Probably choose cool, shady forests to avoid overheating.
Gregarious in winter (non-breeding season); roost communally on flat, open ground and gather in groups of 50–100 on beaches before departing for foraging areas. They forage alone at sea. Secretive and especially wary of humans. During breeding season they come ashore at night and negotiate difficult terrain to reach cliff-top breeding areas. The least colonial of penguins when breeding; nests are clustered together only because appropriate habitat is limited. Calls are less harsh than those of other penguins; Maori name, hoiho, means “noise shouter.”
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Eat mostly fish, some squid, and rarely crustaceans. While one parent guards chick, off-duty bird heads to sea to forage in afternoon and returns at dusk. Outside of the breeding season, most birds head to sea at dawn and return before dark.
Nest out of sight of nearest neighbors amid dense vegetation. Prefer hardwood (Podocarpus) forests (where nest sites are at the base of trees or alongside fallen longs) but also nest in fields of tussock grass. Nesting territory may be defended year-round. Nest is a shallow bowl of twigs and other plant matter constructed by both parents. Two eggs laid, three to five days apart. Parents alternate incubation shifts of one to seven days during 39–51 day incubation period and also take turns brooding chicks for four to six weeks.
A 1990 study indicated the population had declined at least 75% over 40 years. Changed from Vulnerable to Endangered; total breeding population estimated to be fewer than 2,000 pairs. Breeding range is very small, and habitat has been degraded, especially by clearing of hardwood forests for farming. In addition, cattle trample nests and introduced ferrets, stoats, and feral cats are significant predators. Adults also caught and killed accidentally in fishing nets. Ongoing conservation efforts may be starting to reverse population decline.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Yellow-eyed penguins have become a figurehead species of the New Zealand environmental movement.
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