Tuesday 21 May
Fiordland crested penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Fiordland crested penguin fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Fiordland crested penguin description
One of the smaller members of the penguin family, the Fiordland crested penguin has a black head, throat and back, a white front and underside, a thick stubby orange bill and pink feet. The most distinguishing features are the yellow sulphur-coloured crests above the eyes that extend from the bill to just behind the head. Both sexes are similar, whereas young birds have paler cheeks and shorter crests (2) (4).
Like other members of the genus Eudyptes the Fiordland crested penguin has a black throat but can be distinguished from the similar Rockhopper, Macaroni and Royal penguins by the shape, extent and colour of the eye crests (4). The two species that can be confused with the Fiordland crested are the erect-crested penguin and the Snares Island penguin. The former has eye crests that stand proud of the top of the head and no part which extends to below the eye itself. The latter is a slightly larger bird with a thicker bill (4).
- Also known as
- thick-billed penguin. Top
International Penguin Conservation:
- Diverse group of arthropods (a phylum of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton) characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (parts of the mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, slaters, woodlice and barnacles.
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
- Mating with a single partner.
- Inhabiting the open oceans.
IUCN Red List (April, 2007)
International Penguin Conservation (April, 2004)
- Sparks, J. and Soper, T. (1968) Penguins. David and Charles, Newton Abbott.
Birdlife International (2003) Birdlife’s on-line World Bird Database: the site for bird conservation. Version 2.0. Cambridge, UK: Birdlife International (April, 2004)
Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology (April, 2004)
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Fiordland crested penguin biology
After spending much of the year alone in the open ocean, males arrive at the chosen breeding site ahead of the females during late June or July. Two weeks later the females arrive and mating takes place. The birds are monogamous and prefer their nest sites to be hidden from one another. Two pale-green eggs are laid in a cavity between tree roots, stones or small burrows in the coastal forest, and incubation takes from four to six weeks. The birds do not attempt to collect nest materials. Although it is usual for just one egg to hatch successfully, occasionally both chicks emerge. However, the parents rarely catch enough food for two offspring and the smaller chick usually dies (3).
While the chick is still defenceless, one parent (usually the male), will guard it whilst the other finds food. Fiordland crested penguins feed inshore and catch crustaceans, squid and small fish which they regurgitate for the chick. Once the young is large enough to be safe from most native predators, both parents take on the role of fishing to provide their offspring with food. Chicks often wander about the nest site or gather in loose-knit crèches. After about 10 or 11 weeks, the chick moults and leaves the nest site, finally adopting the solitary pelagic lifestyle of the adult birds. It will return to breed at the age of five years (2) (3).Top
Fiordland crested penguin range
A migratory species, found in Antarctic waters and around the southern circumpolar islands, the Fiordland penguin breeds on the coast of southwest New Zealand, Stewart Island and Solander Island (5).Top
Fiordland crested penguin habitat
Outside the breeding season, Fiordland crested penguins are birds of the open ocean. When ashore to breed they prefer secluded coastlines and chose nesting sites that are amongst rocks or have tree cover (3).Top
Fiordland crested penguin status
Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).Top
Fiordland crested penguin threats
The Fiordland crested penguin has declined in numbers drastically during the last twenty years. In the 1980s, the global population was estimated to number 10,000 breeding pairs. Today, the number is thought to be 2,500 to 3,000 pairs. The principal cause is believed to be from introduced animals such as cats and stoats (5), although where the birds’ breeding sites are close to public beaches, pet dogs are thought to be largely responsible for disturbing adult birds and catching chicks. With the increase in human leisure activities, this pressure is bound to intensify (2). There is also a problem with the endemic weka, Gallirallus australis, which preys on eggs and chicks and is thought to contribute to over a third of egg loses in some breeding areas, especially Solander Island (5).
At sea, penguins are in constant competition for food with fishing vessels and sometimes find themselves caught in fishing nets. Perhaps the biggest threat, however, is through marine pollution, particularly oil spillage and the illegal but common practice of discharging oil tanker ballast water off-shore (5). As yet, little is known about the possible effects of global warming on penguin populations (5).Top
Fiordland crested penguin conservation
Recent surveys of a number of the Fiordland crested penguin’s breeding areas have suggested that more research into predator-related threats need to be examined. One idea is to eradicate the weka – the principal local predator – from Solander Island to reduce the losses of eggs and chicks (5).Top
Find out more
For further information on the Fiordland crested penguin see:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.