Yellow-eyed penguins, as solitary breeders, are the least social of all penguins. They maintain the largest territory size of any penguin, sometimes up to one nest per hectare in forested areas.
Nests, made of sticks and coarse grass, are built against a solid obstruction such as rock, tree trunk or flax plant. The nest must provide shelter from harsh weather and the heat of the sun. The long 28 week breeding season begins in mid-August, when partnerships are formed or renewed and nest sites selected.
Two eggs are laid in mid-September to mid-October. Eggs are green, but change to white within 24 hours. Egg size is 75 mm x 54 mm.
The incubation period of 38-54 days (average 43 days) is shared by both parents. The average hatching date on mainland New Zealand is the beginning of November.
From hatching until chicks are 6 weeks old (a period known as the ‘guard phase’), one parent remains with the chicks while the other parent goes to sea to fish for food for the chicks. Chicks fledge from mid-February to mid-March.
Juvenile yellow-eyed penguins are known to disperse northwards as far as Cook Strait during their first year at sea, but adults are found at their breeding area throughout the year.
Approximately 50% of surviving juveniles return to breed at the place where they were hatched.
- Basic facts
- Physical characteristics
- Viewing protocol
- Sound clips
- Other penguin species