Bird Families

Thick-billed penguin

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The most extensive genus of the family. All representatives of the genus are characterized by a thickened dull red beak, reddish eyes, a massive head on a short neck, adorning bunches of elongated golden feathers in the form of "eyebrows" or "crown".

They feed on krill, and many species have increased dramatically in recent years due to the almost complete extermination of baleen whales, the main consumers of krill in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Sklater penguin or large-billed (E. sclateri), thick-billed (E. pachyrhynchus) and large thick-billed (E. robustus) - nest only on islets off the coast of New Zealand.

Thick-billed penguin

The body length is 55 - 60 cm with a mass of 2 to 5 kilograms, the average is 3 kilograms. Its feathers reach a length of about 2.7 cm. The head and body of the penguin are black, white in front, spots on the cheeks are also white. At the base of the beak, cruciform yellow stripes are clearly visible, which run towards the eyes. Chicks are grayish-brown from the back with white breast and belly.

1. Distribution

It inhabits the Stewart and Solander Islands and in New Zealand on the southwestern coast of the South Island. The population of the species numbered from 5,000 to 10,000 pairs in the 1980s, now it has decreased to 1,000 - 2,500 pairs, but is recognized as stable.

2. Lifestyle

Food is obtained from coastal waters, feeding on crustaceans, cephalopods and small fish. At the time of breeding, they migrate from the coast, some nests can be located at an altitude of 100 m above sea level. In winter, Victoria penguins live in the ocean and live alone for many months, 75% of their life falls during this period. In July, penguins go out to the breeding ground and spend 25% of their life there. During the daytime, penguins hide in rocky crevasses and dense vegetation, showing activity only at night. The natural enemies of penguins are ferrets, other land-based predators that have been introduced to New Zealand. Among aquatic predators there are seals and large fish.

3. Reproduction

In colonies, pairs are located at a distance from each other. They do not nest in open places; rocky ledges, fallen trees, burrows are preferred for nesting. Males return to nesting sites in July, usually two weeks earlier than females. The nest is built from small twigs. Females usually lay two pale green eggs. Hatching of eggs lasts 4 - 6 weeks. As a rule, most often one egg dies, but if both survive, then the parents are not able to feed two chicks, and the weaker chick dies. Of two chicks, it is usually the hatched from a larger egg that survives. From a smaller egg, not a single chick often hatches, or dies a few days after birth. For the first 2 - 3 weeks after hatching of the chick, the male stays near the nest and protects it, while the female searches for and obtains food. In two weeks, both parents leave to feed in the sea, leaving the chick on the shore as part of a group of young animals. At the age of 75 days, the chicks molt and are already able to swim in the sea.

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