Erect-crested Penguin – Eudyptes sclateri
Eudyptes Genus – Crested penguins
Height: 22-25 in.
Weight: 6.5-14 lb.
Life expectancy in the wild: 10 years.
Approximated Population: 195,000-210,000
Population tendency: Decreasing
IUCN Conservation status: EN
The plumage of their head and back of their body is black and from the neck to the beginning of the legs is white. They have yellow and white feathers that start from the base of their beak and continue to the head. These feathers stay vertical, which is why they are called Erect-crested penguins.
Their legs have a light pink color that enhances their black claws. Their beak varies from orange to red and is short and thick; is finely outlined by a white border. Unlike the Macaroni, the Erect-crested penguins do not have dark red eyes; they are black with soft reddish shades that are not noticeable in plain sight.
When chicks are born, brown plumage covers their head and the back part of their body, while cream, yellow or white feathers cover them from the neck to the legs. They do not have the erect feathers of the crest that adults have, until after the molting.
Where do they live?
Erect-crested penguins have a very restricted distribution area; they inhabit only two groups of islands located south of New Zealand, the Antipodes Islands and the Bounty Islands. Both islands have restrictions for human activities by the New Zealand government.
Their habitat, on the coast of these islands, is usually rocky but bordered with beautiful vegetation and blue oceans with high concentrations of algae.
Skills and Behavior
Erect-crested penguins are social and form groups for hunting, where they work together to catch prey and stay alert to potential dangers. Although these penguins show affection to their partners and their young, when it comes to individuals that do not have any family relationship, they show aggression and defend their space using their beak and flippers.
The grooming of their head is very common among couples as well as bows and other body movements.
Communication is paramount to adults and from parents to their offspring. Short beeps, open beaks, flapping, and head movements, are some of the expressions used by the erect-crested penguin.
Non-breeding individuals arrive before to the Antipodes Islands in January to molt. Breeders, however, return to the sea after their offspring molt for the first time. On these pre-molting trips, they consume abundant food to store while on land for the time they cannot enter the sea. This natural process takes 26 to 30 days; males and females can lose up to 50% of their bodyweight.
What do they eat?
The feeding habits of this species are not well known, but they eat fish being the shellfish their primary source of food.
Incubation period: about 35 days.
Normal clutch: Two eggs.
Males are very devoted to courtship. They build the nest to impress their partner. If their efforts are recognized and appreciated by the female, she will agree to intercourse.
The first egg is lost 98% of the time while the latter develops successfully.
Females lay the first egg in early October, which is smaller than the second, laid five days later. Eggs are pale blue or light green and soon turn into a soft brown color.
The first egg is lost 98% of the time while the latter develops successfully. Two days after the hatching, the mother leaves the male in charge of the offspring for three or four weeks, but she returns daily to regurgitate food for them.
Their population is diminishing, and the cause is still uncertain, but among the hypotheses are the temperature change of oceans waters, lower availability of food and marine pollution. The New Zealand government has forbidden human activities in these areas, allowing access only to selected researchers, to reduce these threats.
Penguin range map
Salomon, David. Penguin-pedia, photographs and facts from one man’s search for the penguins pf the world. Brown Books. 2011.
Garcia Borboroglu, Pablo. Penguins: Natural History and Conservation. University of Washington Press, 2015.
BioExpedition Publishing © 2017.