Crested penguins are medium-sized birds. They belong to the Animalia kingdom, Chordata phylum, Aves class, Sphenisciformes order, Spheniscidae family, and Eudyptes genus. The word “Eudyptes” is derived from two Greek words, i.e., “EU” meaning “good” and “dyptes” meaning “diver.” There are seven species of Crested penguins.
These include Fiordland penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus), Snares penguin (Eudyptes robustus), Erect crested penguin (Eudyptes sclateri), Southern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome), Northern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi), Royal penguin (Eudyptes schlegeli), and Macaroni penguin (Eudyptes Chrysolophus).
They are found on Sub Antarctic islands present in the world’s southern oceans. They are distributed on the coasts of Australia, New Zealand, Antipodes, and Bounty Islands. They inhabit rocky coasts, cliffs, and beaches.
They have distinguishable eyebrows of yellow-colored feathers extending from the bill to the back of their head. They have red-colored eyes, black throat, blackhead, back, and white underparts. The white stripes on the cheek and whitish-pink colored stripes on the beak are common features in both adults and juveniles.
However, young birds have pale chins and short crests. Both the male and females are similar except that males are larger and heavier than females. These birds feed on krill, squids, and small fish.
They travel great distances in search of food. They are very sociable that nest in large colonies. They exhibit a wide range of vocalizations, including hissing, cries, braying, and trumpeting sounds. They get into a fight every year because of their need to find a new mate. Once the fighting period is over, then they become peaceful and well behaved.
Their breeding season starts in early September. They become sexually mature at the age of about 5 to 9 years. If they find a reliable partner, then they will mate for life by forming lifelong bonds. The nesting sites are burrows in the rocks. The nests are made from stones and mud lined with grass. Certain courtship rituals include head swinging and trumpeting vocalizations.
They have an average size of about 60 centimeters to 68 centimeters or 24 inches to 27 inches and an average weight of about 3 kilograms to 6 kilograms or 6 pounds to 13 pounds.
Some of the predators of Crested penguins are sharks, orcas, leopard seals, skuas, and petrels. Other threats include overfishing, which results in depleting their food source, pollution, increasing water temperature that results in driving their prey away from the islands.
There are approximately 25,000 pairs of Crested penguins in the world. They are listed as vulnerable by International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The New Zealand government has taken actions to protect marine feeding grounds for the protection of Crested penguins. Their average lifespan is 15 to 20 years.
Crested Penguin Habitat:
Crested penguins are found in Australia and New Zealand. During the breeding season, they are found in Antipodes and Bounty Islands. During the non-breeding season, the exact location of these birds is unknown.
They inhabit coastal rocks, cliffs, and streams. They form their nests by digging shallow holes and by adding mud to them. The vegetation normally includes short grasses and shrubs.
Crested Penguin Facts:
Some of the facts about Crested penguins are as follows,
- Crested penguins are found across the coasts of Australia and New Zealand.
- Their most distinctive features are their red-colored beaks and bright yellow eyebrows.
- They inhabit rocky Antarctic Islands.
- They are carnivores and feed on krill, fish, and shrimp.
- They exhibit different colors, i.e., grey, yellow, black, and white.
- They are mostly monogamous and produce a single chick each year.
- Their predators are leopard seals, killers, whales, and shark.
- They are recorded as “vulnerable” by IUCN.
- There are 25,000 pairs of Crested penguins in the world.
- The New Zealand government has taken actions to protect the population of Crested penguins by saving marine feeding grounds.
- Their average lifespan is 15 to 20 years.
Crested Penguin Adaptations:
Some of the adaptations exhibited by Crested penguins are as follows,
- Crested penguins are medium to large-sized birds.
- Females are usually smaller than males.
- They exhibit long and slender bills that are red in color. The throat, head, and cheeks are black-colored. Underparts are white in color. The upperparts and tail are bluish-black in color. The yellowish color band is present over each eye. Flippers have white-colored plumages with black and blue spots. Juveniles have slightly different coloration as compared to adults. They have a shorter crest, greyish-brown upperparts, and white-colored underparts.
- They live in sub-Antarctic waters during winter. During breeding seasons, they are found on the coast of New Zealand, including Bounty, Antipodes, Campbell, and Auckland Islands.
- They form their nests on coastal cliffs, rocks, and beaches having scarce vegetation.
- They are diurnal and highly sociable.
- There is fierce competition in their nesting sites.
- Their vocalizations are usually low-pitched, consisting of pulsed phrases.
- They are excellent divers and swimmers and can travel great distances.
- They are carnivores.
- These birds exhibit much heavier bones that help them in swimming.
- They are excellent climbers and can easily climb steep rocky cliffs.
- They eat a lot of food to store up their body fat. This stored fat helps them to survive during molting and mating when they don’t eat.
- There are spikes on the back of their mouths that help them in swallowing prey.
- They are monogamous, and they often gather in large breeding colonies.
Crested Penguin Diet:
Crested penguins are carnivores. They feed on krill, squid, and fish. Their feeding behaviors are unknown.
Crested Penguin Eggs:
After the formation of the nest in rocky cliffs or beaches, females lay two eggs. One egg is small-sized that doesn’t hatch, and the larger one hatches after incubation. The incubation period is about ten days. During this period, both the parents take turns foraging and incubating the egg.
After hatching, males sit on the egg for a further three weeks to protect the chick, and females go out in search of food. After about 11 months, the chick becomes able to leave the nest. It reaches the age of sexual maturity at about 5 to 9 years.
Erect Crested Penguin Habitat:
Erect crested penguins live in the waters of the sub-Antarctic region during winter. They are found across rocky Antipodes, Bounty, Auckland, and the Campbell Islands of New Zealand during the breeding season. There is little vegetation on these rocky cliffs, including grasses and shrubs.
Crested Penguin Females:
Both the male and female are almost similar in appearance. The only difference is the small size and less weight of females as compared to males.
Crested penguins are medium to large-sized birds found across Snares Island groups, New Zealand, and the Antarctic region inhabiting rocky coasts, cliffs, and streams. They are well known for their bright yellow-colored eyebrows, red-colored beak, trumpeting and braying vocalizations, excellent swimming, climbing, and diving abilities. They only become aggressive during fierce competitions in their nesting sites. Otherwise, they are peaceful birds. Certain measures have been taken to save marine feeding grounds for their protection as they have been recorded as vulnerable species.