Yellow Eyed Penguin

p yelloweyedp yelloweyed1







Height: 60 to 78 cm (24 to 31 inches) for average adult.

Weight: 5 to 9 kg (11 to 19 lbs) for average adult, weight fluctuates depending on the season.


  • Pale yellow eye.
  • Pale yellow band or mask extending from corner of bill, over eye and around the top of the head.
  • Flesh colored long straight bill with red-brown tip.
  • Chick is brown with less obvious yellow band on head.


  • Pink.


  • Fish and a few squid.


  • Indigenous to South New Zealand nesting on the shores of the Otago Peninsula, South Island, Stewart, Auckland, Campbell and Enderby Island.
  • Birds nest under the trees using the foliage as building materials and protection from the weather.


  • Pairs form throughout the year, are faithful to their mate and their nest site year after year.
  • The male attracts a female with his bill pointed skyward and flippers outstretched. The female answers in the same way.
  • Yellow-eyed calls are quieter because their colonies are small and the birds are not required to raise their voices to be heard over the many other voices.
  • Least gregarious of all species during breeding season with no more than 1 to 5 nests for every 1 hectare ( 2.5 acres) of land, very secretive.
  • Breeds in coastal forests making nests with leaves, twigs and branches: each nest is out of sight from their neighbor’s nest.
  • First breeding season female lay 1 egg, the following year 2 eggs.
  • Both female and male share the incubation duties equally every other day.
  • Newborn chicks are blind and remain between the parents’ feet for 3 weeks before slowly venturing outside the nest.
  • After 6 weeks with parents the chicks are left alone while their parents go fishing returning to feed them in the late afternoon.
  • Adult birds moult once a year.


  • Leopard seals occasionally at sea.
  • New Zealand Sea Lions presence alters the penguins’ behavior; they avoid the beaches where these sea lions lie about, yet at other locations walk near them.
  • Human encroachment is the greatest threat. Habitat degradation from grazing has led to the destruction of many breeding colonies. Without adequate foliage the chicks are more sensitive to weather conditions. With the introduction of dogs and cats often 90 percent of a colony’s young is destroyed.

Interesting Facts

  • One of most endangered penguin; possible only 1,850 pairs in 2002.
  • Most uniquely marked penguin with yellowish eye and mask. The yellow-eyed penguin cannot be confused with any other penguin. © All rights reserved.

Top Desktop version