Little Penguin ﹣Also called: Little Blue Penguin, Fairy Penguin, Australian Little Penguin
Smallest of all penguin species
Height: 41 to 45 cm (16 to 18 inches) for average adult.
Weight: 0.5 to 2 kg (1 to 1.5 lbs) for average adult.
- Back, flippers and top of head dark blue.
- White chest, chin and underside of flippers with white on edges of flippers.
- Gray eyes.
- Patches of bare skin on their face that radiate excess heat to keep them cool.
- Black bill. The male’s bill is thicker and longer than the female’s.
- Juveniles covered with gray-brown down.
- Krill and cephalopods.
- Opportunistic, takes advantage of the most abundant prey but not more than 50 mm (2 inches) in length.
- Breeds in burrows where digging is possible or under bushes.
- The nest/burrow consists of a nesting chamber located above a tunnel usually approximately 60 to 80 cm (24 to 32 inches) deep.
- Males secure a nesting burrow, stand at the entrance trying to attract a mate through a series of vocalizations and displays. Sometimes males gather together on a rocky site in “calling clubs” in non-breeding areas to find a partner.
- The females lay 2 white eggs and both parents take turns incubating the clutch in the leaf lined burrow.
- Chicks stay in the burrow for approximately 2 months and are fed daily by one parent. When the chicks are able to regulate their body temperature with a layer of down both parents will leave the burrow to fish.
- Soon the chicks wait for their parents at dusk outside the burrow calling to their parents with a peeping or hissing sound.
- Sea lions, sharks and barracudas at sea.
- Lizards, snakes, skuas, gulls and sea eagles prey upon eggs and chicks.
- Dogs, cats, weasels, ferrets, rats, and other animals that were introduced attack adult penguins, destroy nests and feed on the eggs and chicks.
- Colonies are along the southern and eastern coasts of Australia, on the shores of New Zealand, Tasmania and Chatham Islands.