minor (aka Little Blue, Blue, and Fairy
The world's smallest penguin
averages only 12 inches in height, with an
average weight of 2.5 pounds, hence the common
name "Little Penguin." It is white from
the chin down the belly and on the underside of
the flippers, and indigo blue everywhere else,
hence its alternate names of "Little
Blue" and "Blue."
Both sexes are similar in appearance, but
males are larger and have longer and deeper
bills. Juveniles have a dorsal plumage that is a
brighter light blue than the indigo-blue of the
adults, as well as thinner and shorter beaks.
One of the most northerly of all penguins, the
little penguin is found throughout the southern
coast of Australia and as far north as the South
Solitary Island off the coast of New South Wales,
as well as the coasts of New Zealand. There are
six recognized subspecies, with one located in
Australia and the others in New Zealand.
When on land, little penguins prefer coastal
habitats with good nesting sites. They prefer
loose sand, but if the ground is too soft to hold
a burrow they will nest in caves and rock
crevices. Habitats include rocky coastline,
savanna, scrub forest or forests. Little penguins
are marine birds, however, and spend the majority
of their lives swimming underwater.
Fish, especially anchovies and sardines, make
up the majority of the little penguin's diet, but
small squid, octopi, and some marine crustaceans
are also taken. Prey is usually taken in shallow
depths using a pursuit-diving technique.
penguins breed in loose colonies from June to
begins with the male performing courtship
displays and giving mating calls. He holds his
body in an upright position with flippers above
his back, neck stretched, and head upright facing
the sky, then emits a braying sound. The display
may be performed alone or in a group of unmated
males, and sometime in front of a nest the male
has constructed. Once the female has chosen her
mate, the two perform a display together before
mating. Once formed, mating pairs tend to stay
together for life, although an unsuccessful
nesting attempt may prompt a "divorce."
penguins nest in ground burrows, rocky cliffs or
caves, where they lay a clutch of 1 to 2 smooth,
white eggs. The female handles most of the
incubation duties, which last 31-40 days, but the
male helps by exchanging duties with the female
every 3 to 4 days.
penguin chicks are completely dependent on their
parents for the first 18 to 38 days, with the
parents trading off every 3 to 4 days. After the
initial "guard period," the parents
guard the chicks only at night. Fledging occurs
at 50 to 65 days, and full independence is
achieved at 57 to 78 days. Sexual maturity is
usually achieved at about 3 years.
penguins can lay multiple clutches if the first
clutch was a failure or if the adults raised
their first fledglings early in the breeding
Considered the most nocturnal of the penguins,
little penguins generally spend all day foraging
at sea and return to land to roost at dusk. When
the penguins return to shore from the sea, they
parade back to their nests in groups.
genus & species Eudyptula minor
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Eudyptula_minor/
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