Ian’s Bird of the Week – Yellow-eyed Penguin

Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) by Ian 1

Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) by Ian 1

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Yellow-eyed Penguin ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 11/22/11
I had intended the Fiordland Crested Penguin at Milford Sound to be the next bird of the week, but since then I have photographed the unusual and rarer Yellow-eyed Penguin at the well-known colony on the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin and chosen it instead.

I went there in the evening as this is the time when the fishing member of the breeding pairs returns to relieve the incubating or baby-sitting member. The bird in the first photo is an adult that has just returned to the colony. The adults are distinguishable by having the yellow band joining the eyes around the nape of the head.
Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) by Ian 2

Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) by Ian 2

The bird in the second photo is another adult. Yellow-eyed Penguins are quite large, up to 79cm/31in in length and weighing up to 8kg. The males are larger than the females and penguins in general have heavy bones by bird standards to help them dive. When the pairs are reunited they typically perform mutual preening as in the third photo.
Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) by Ian 3

Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) by Ian 3

The total population of the species is about 2,000 pairs, mainly on Auckland and Campbell Islands, with about 150 pairs on Stewart Island and about 500 on the South Island. It has suffered from loss of coastal forest and still suffers from predation by introduced mammals such as feral cats. It is classified as endangered, but the population has been relatively stable over the last 30 years.
Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) by Ian 4 juvenile

Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) by Ian 4 juvenile

The bird in the fourth photo is a juvenile (they don’t breed until they are 3 or 4 years old) and lacks the yellow band on the back of the head.
More than 20 years ago, when on Stewart Island, I booked to go on a boat trip to an island that had both Yellow-eyed Penguins and Wekas, a large flightless rail. The weather was so bad that the trip was cancelled and both these species had represented unfinished business. On this trip I encountered Wekas at Milford Sound.
I’m in Dunedin for a second time now, having needed to drive to Christchurch to return the camper and then flown back. This produced a strangely disorientating feeling of deja-vu, as you quite reasonably expect to end up somewhere else after a flight, not where you’ve just been the day before. I have met up with my 3 travelling companions from Victoria and we are all excited at the prospect of sailing for the Sub-Antarctic Islands tomorrow. So, don’t expect another bird of the week or any communication for that matter until we reach Hobart where we are due on 1 December. I hope that by then I’ll have many more photos to share with you.
Best wishes
Ian

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au


Lee’s Addition:

Ian has been putting out his newsletters close together lately. Most likely since he knows he will be away from an internet connection for awhile. This newsletter was received several days ago, but decided to space it to fill the gap of time before his next one arrives. I am looking forward to what this next part of his trip produces.

Penguins are in the Sphenisciformes Order. The family, Spheniscidae, is the only one in the order. The 18 Penguins are in 5 genera; Aptenodytes, Pygoscelis, Eudyptes, Megadyptes and Spheniscus. Check out Ian’s Penguins and the the complete Spheniscidae family here.

Let heaven and earth praise Him, The seas and everything that moves in them. (Psalms 69:34 NKJV)

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