White-flippered penguin

White-flippered penguin

Little penguin

SUBSPECIES OF

2 languages
Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Eudyptula minor albosignata

The little penguin (Eudyptula minor ) is a species of penguin from New Zealand. They are commonly known as little blue penguins or blue penguins owing to their slate-blue plumage. They are also known by their Māori name kororā.

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The Australian little penguin (Eudyptula novaehollandiae ) from Australia and the Otago region of New Zealand is considered a separate species by a 2016 study and a 2019 study.

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Appearance

Like those of all penguins, the wings of Eudyptula species have developed into flippers used for swimming.

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Eudyptula species typically grow to between 30 and 33 cm (12 and 13 in) tall and on average weigh 1.5 kg (3.3 lb). The head and upper parts are blue in colour, with slate-grey ear coverts fading to white underneath, from the chin to the belly. Their flippers are blue in colour. The dark grey-black beak is 3–4 cm long, the irises pale silvery- or bluish-grey or hazel, and the feet pink above with black soles and webbing. An immature individual will have a shorter bill and lighter upperparts.

Like most seabirds, the Eudyptula species have a long lifespan. The average for the species is 6.5 years, but flipper ringing experiments show that in very exceptional cases they may live up to 25 years in captivity.

Eudyptula minor does not have the distinct bright blue feathers that distinguish Eudyptula novaehollandiae. In addition, the vocalisation patterns of the New Zealand lineage located on Tiritiri Matangi Island vary from the Australian lineage located in Oamaru. Females are known to prefer the local call of the New Zealand lingeage.

There are also behavioural differences that help differentiate these penguins. Those of the Australian lineage will swim together in a large group after dusk and walk along the shore to reach their nesting sites. This may be an effective predator avoidance strategy by traveling in a large group simultaneously. This has not been seen by those of the New Zealand lineage. Eudyptula minor only recently encountered terrestrial vertebrate predators, while Eudyptula novaehollandiae would have had to deal with carnivorous marsupials.

Also, Eudyptula novaehollandiae located in Australia will double brood. Birds will double brood by laying another clutch of eggs in hopes to increase their reproductive success. They complete this after the first clutch has successfully fledged. They may also do this due to the increasing sea surface temperatures and changing sources of food that are available. This behaviour has never been observed by those in New Zealand.

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Geography

Population

Population threats

Protestors have opposed the development of a marina at Kennedy Point, Waiheke Island in New Zealand for the risk it poses to little penguins and their habitat. Protesters claimed that they exhausted all legal means to oppose the project and have had to resort to occupation and non-violent resistance. Several arrests have been made for trespassing.

Conservation

Eudyptula species are classified as "at risk - declining" under Wildlife Act 1953.

References

1. White-flippered penguin Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-flippered_penguin

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