Penguin Info – Breeding – Did you know

To the many visitors (including a recent Canadian lady teaching in ChCh). The many questions you all ask about “Little Blues” – has made me add another page of facts from various web-sites.

There’s a saying in Maori – “He korora, he tohu oranga” – The penguin is a sign of life. This saying is supported by science. They are seen to be one of the best indicators of regional ocean health around our shorelines. A lack of penguins in a coastal area means the food web below them is in disarray.

The blue penguin is the smallest penguin in the world, around 35 to 45cm tall and weight around 1kg. Average lifespan is 7 years, however some have been recorded living up to 25 years. Adults have a slate blue plumage on the back, white chin, throat and shirt front.

They nest close to the sea in burrows, caves, rock crevices, nesting boxes and even under man made structures. Penguins normally return to the same breeding ground every year along with their chicks who will also breed in the same area as they were born.

The male is responsible for setting up the nest and must impress his partner before breeding will take place. They generally mate for life but depending on circumstances, a change may occur.

During the breeding season, males protect their area by growling and making a “kak-kak-kak” noise. If the other male gets to close they will lock beaks and beat each other with their flippers.

Blue penguins normally lay two eggs called a “clutch” one to four days apart. The eggs are white until stained by excreta and mud. Incubation time is 36 days. Both parents take turns sitting on the eggs. hatching of the egg can take up to 3 days.

When the chicks are born, the adults continue to take turns staying on the nest for the first 2 to 3 weeks. After this, both adults need to go to sea each day to bring enough food home to the chicks. Feeding the chicks is by regurgitation into the chicks mouth.

To be continued