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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Did You Know? Incredible Yellow-Eyed Penguin Facts

Yellow-Eyed Penguin facts for kids are great for learning.

Are you looking to learn more about penguins? Today, you can learn about one of the most unique Penguins present on our planet. It is the Yellow-Eyed Penguin that is endemic to New Zealand; they are also known as the Hoiho or Tarakaka in the country. Their preferable habitat is coastal forests, mainly in the southern part of New Zealand. You can sight them in various places like the Auckland and Campbell Islands, Stewart Island, and several other parts of the country. Yellow-Eyed Penguins are mostly known for their iconic bright yellow eyes along with the pale yellow feathers that surround their eyes and span their head. These species are the tallest penguins found in the country of New Zealand. The country mainly has two groups of Yellow-Eyed Penguins, including the Southern and Northern groups, and they don't breed amongst each other. Tourists have been flocking to see the penguins for a long time, but their population is currently Endangered because of reasons like pollution, habitat loss, and global warming. Read on to learn more about these penguins.

If you enjoy the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Facts, visit Chinstrap Penguin and Royal Penguin facts to know more about penguins.

Yellow-Eyed Penguin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Yellow-Eyed Penguin?

A Yellow-Eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) is a type of bird.

What class of animal does a Yellow-Eyed Penguin belong to?

The Yellow-Eyed Penguin belongs to the class Aves and they are part of the order Sphenisciformes.

How many Yellow-Eyed Penguins are there in the world?

It is estimated that only 3,200-3,600 individuals of Yellow-Eyed Penguins are left in the world.

Where does a Yellow-Eyed Penguin live?

Yellow-Eyed Penguins inhabit the native coastal forests, scrub, and dense flax of New Zealand. There are different groups of Yellow-Eyed Penguins found in the country. Banks Peninsula, North Otago, Otago Peninsula, and the Catlins are the major breeding regions for the species living in the Northern areas. The Southern Yellow-Eyed Penguins mainly populate the Subantarctic Auckland Islands, South Island, Stewart Island, and the Campbell island.

What is a Yellow-Eyed Penguin's habitat?

The Yellow-Eyed Penguins prefer to live in coastal forest areas and near the mixed scrub area, especially at the coast of the South Island. The populations of the Yellow-Eyed Penguins are distinctly divided into the Northern and the Southern populations. The two populations do not like to breed with each other. The Yellow-Eyed Penguin population in the Otago peninsula has dropped drastically, probably due to the rising temperature of the waters. Their unique need for coastal forested areas of New Zealand makes the Yellow-Eyed Penguin vulnerable to habitat loss.

Who do Yellow-Eyed Penguins live with?

Yellow-Eyed Penguins are less social compared to other penguin species. They prefer to stay in one place and have the least possible interaction. Their only drastic move is during the breeding season when they are in search of mates, and this can be a great time to see them. The Yellow-Eyed Penguins do not take part in migration. They live and travel in small social groups of six or more individuals, but they do like to maintain their privacy. Yellow-Eyed Penguins also like to keep their nest sites away from each other's reach.

How long does a Yellow-Eyed Penguin live?

Yellow-Eyed Penguins have a long life of 10-20 years, and some even live to be 23 years old.

How do they reproduce?

August through September is the breeding season for Yellow-Eyed Penguins. The species is very picky about their nest site, and they may spend the whole month of August looking for good nesting space. Both the male and female of this penguin species take part in building the nest. They usually nest in the coastal forests, and some scientists think of them as colonial nesters. The Northern variant of the Yellow-Eyed Penguins mainly breeds in the areas of Banks Peninsula, North Otago, Otago Peninsula, and the Catlins. In contrast, the Southern variant of the Yellow-Eyed Penguins breeds in the Campbell island and in different areas of the Subantarctic Auckland Islands. Females usually lay two eggs in the month of September. Both the parents take part in incubating the eggs, and the hatching takes two months, appearing in November. The Yellow-Eyed Penguin follows two distinct phases of rearing the chick. First, the breeding pairs brood over the young, keeping a close eye on them, which is known as the 'guard phase', which lasts for about six weeks. In the second phase, the breeding pairs start to leave the chicks alone in their nest during the daytime. The Yellow-Eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) takes three months or more to leave their nests completely. One parent or both parents take up the job of feeding the chicks well before they leave the nest. Yellow-Eyed Penguins take three to four years to reach sexual maturity to start their breeding process. Many Yellow-Eyed Penguins start to form long-term bonds with partners once they reach sexual maturity. These pairs will stay together and produce further kids.

What is their conservation status?

According to the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Yellow-Eyed Penguin species are currently Endangered.

Yellow-Eyed Penguin Fun Facts

What do Yellow-Eyed Penguins look like?

Yellow-Eyed Penguins have a distinct look because of the presence of bright yellow to pale yellow feathers surround their eyes and the back of the head. If you look closely, it is also easy to notice their bright yellow eyes, which are somewhat hidden under their plumage. The Yellow-Eyed Penguins are quite tall. The face of the penguin has yellow specs over its mostly black feathers. Their fore-neck has slightly brown plumage, while the rest of the back and tail are described as blue-black. The belly and chest area, including the underside of the fins of the species, is covered with white feathers. The upper side of the fin is either covered with brown feathers or with black feathers. They have webbing in their feet to help them swim. The bill has a red-brown color. Along with the yellow eyes, the pale yellow feather band also makes these penguins quite unique. The chicks lack the pale yellow definitions and have paler feathers on their body. The male and female of this penguin species look mostly alike, but the male can be a little bigger compared to the females.

Facts about the Yellow-Eyed Penguins tell us about the unique bird.

How cute are they?

Like all other penguins, the Yellow-Eyed Penguins that are endemic to New Zealand are extremely cute.

How do they communicate?

Yellow-Eyed Penguins aren't very keen about being vocal. However, the species do make a braying call which is quite similar to the Crested Penguins.

How big is a Yellow-Eyed Penguin?

The Yellow-Eyed Penguin can get as tall as 24-31 in (62-79 cm), which is a good height for a penguin. Once, they were thought to be a part of the Little Penguin species, but then they were differentiated. They are twice or thrice the size of Little Penguins that usually grow to a height of 12-14 in (30-35 cm). The Yellow-Eyed Penguins are the biggest breed of penguins living in New Zealand.

How fast can a Yellow-Eyed Penguin fly?

The birds are almost flightless like other penguins. However, they have an amazing swimming speed of 12 mph or 20 kmph.

How much does a Yellow-Eyed Penguin weigh?

The average weight of the Yellow-Eyed Penguin is around 6.6-18.7 lb (3-8.5 kg). These birds weigh their heaviest before going through molting to form new feathers.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male penguins are known as cocks while female penguins are known as hens.

What would you call a baby Yellow-Eyed Penguin?

The baby of a Yellow-Eyed Penguin is called a chick.

What do they eat?

Like most other penguins, the Yellow-Eyed Penguin of New Zealand is categorized as piscivorous. They are mainly dependent on fishes as their primary source of food. Some of the fishes that they like to eat are the Opal fish, Red Cod fish, and Blue Cod that are part of the demersal species in fishes. They also like to feed on the New Zealand blueback sprat fish.

Are they dangerous?

Penguins aren't really dangerous, but they can get into pecking mode if someone irritates them.

Would they make a good pet?

As they are classified as an endangered species, it is illegal to keep a Yellow-Eyed Penguin as your pet. These calm creatures do behave quite well in zoo environments though. Also, the species like to be left alone.

Did you know...

Honoré Jacquinot and Jacques Bernard Hombron were the first people to initiate a conversation about the Yellow-Eyed Penguins.

They are the only species that belong to the genus of Megadyptes. The other species that are part of the genus are the Waitaha Penguins, who are currently extinct, but traces of them were found in 2008, and they were also natives of New Zealand.

Finding the Yellow-Eyed Penguin

Tourists have flocked the Otago Peninsula to catch a view of these mighty penguins. The beaches of Oamaru and that of the Moeraki lighthouse are often overloaded with people who want to spot these majestic penguins. The Yellow-Eyed Penguin trust organizes viewings for the public. The Yellow-Eyed Penguin trust also states that the birds are usually spotted during their mating season that lasts between August to April. The Yellow-Eyed Penguin trust also urges the public to vacate the beaches once the penguins start roaming around the beach. So, most bird enthusiasts will try to locate the species in the dark just before sunrise to get a good look at them. The organization recommends carrying binoculars to watch the birds and to hide from the view of the penguin.

Why is the Yellow-Eyed Penguin endangered?

One of the biggest threats to the Yellow-Eyed Penguins is their habitat loss. Due to climate change and the rising temperature of the water, a huge population of them have already died. Another growing threat for them is introduced predators like cats, ferrets, and dogs that have come along with humans. One of the foremost Yellow-Eyed Penguin predators has to be the fisheries. Many of the penguins die due to being caught as bycatch in the fishing nets. Slowly the Yellow-Eyed Penguin habitat is also dwindling as their native forest covers are being wiped away by humans. Recently, Avian diphtheria has also been haunting this species which is bad news for their survival.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds, including King Penguin, or pileated woodpecker.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our yellow-eyes penguin coloring pages.

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