antipodes (aka Hoiho)
As its name suggests, this
penguin is distinguished by its yellow eyes,
along with a bright yellow band encircling the
head from eye to eye and pale yellow feathers on
the head. The rest of the penguin is gray-blue in
color, with a snow-white belly and pink feet. The
yellow-eyed penguin stands about 2 feet tall and
weighs about 11-12 pounds. Both sexes are similar
in size and coloration, but the male's head and
feet are slightly larger. Juveniles look like the
adults, except that the yellow band
encircling the head is absent and the yellow head
feathers are paler in color or absent.
The yellow-eyed penguin is found on the
southeast coast of South Island (New Zealand), on
islands off Stewart Island, Stewart Island
itself, the Auckland Islands and Campbell Island.
Its land habitats include forest and scrubland
and, sometimes, grazed pasture.
The population of yellow-eyed penguins is
estimated to be around 2,000 breeding pairs. The
majority of those pairs breed on the
sub-antarctic Auckland and Campbell Islands;
around 500 pairs breed on New Zealand's South
Island, and there are another 150 pairs on and
around Stewart Island.
Like all other penguins, the yellow-eyed
penguin feeds primarily on fish, although it will
also take squid. Feeding is usually done near the
bottom, at depths of up to 525 feet and as far as
30 miles off shore. Dive times are up to 3.5
Although they nest in loose
"colonies," yellow-eyed penguins do not
nest within sight of each other. Nests are built
under dense vegetation in dunes and coastal
forest, usually against a solid structure such as
a tree or rock, and are composed of sticks,
twigs, and grasses.
Yellow-eyed penguins typically form life-long
monogamous breeding pairs. Although there may be
a "mourning period" of one breeding
season upon the death of a mate, the widowed
survivor will typically attempt to find a new
mate in the next available breeding season.
Nest sites are selected in August and normally
two eggs are laid in September. The incubation
duties (lasting 39-51 days) are shared by both
parents, each of which may spend several days on
the nest at a time. For the first six weeks after
hatching, the chicks are guarded during the day
by one parent while the other is at sea feeding.
The foraging adult returns at least daily to feed
the chicks and relieve the partner. After the
chicks are six weeks of age, both parents go to
sea to supply food to their rapidly growing
offspring. Chicks usually fledge in mid-February
and are totally independent from then on.
Sexually maturity is achieved at 3-4 years,
and yellow-eyed penguins typically live about 20
Where most other penguin species have become
accustomed to having humans watch their courting
and nesting behaviors, the yellow-eyed penguin
has never adapted to the presence of humans and
feeding parents will often refuse to come ashore
to feed their chicks if there are humans anywhere
in the vicinity.
The Maori name for this bird,
"Hoiho," means "The noise
shouter," and is a reference to its shrill
genus & species Megadyptes antipodes
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