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Little Penguin, Eudyptula minor

Where in Australia do they live?
Little Penguins live in colonies all along the southern coastal waters from Perth in Western Australia to Sydney in New South Wales, as well as around Tasmania.

What is their habitat?
Little Penguins live in burrows in the ground and, if not at sea, stay inside for protection against heat and predators. The most famous colony of these little birds is on Phillip Island in Victoria where about 32,000 live. You can see them up close at the nightly Penguin Parade.

What’s special about them?
Sometimes Little Penguins are called ‘Little Blue Fairies’. When you see their azure blue coats and their tiny bodies along with their funny little wings (flippers) it’s not hard to understand why. But don’t let the cute exterior fool you: they are superb athletes. Little Penguins can’t fly but they’re great divers and swimmers. They can swim between 15 and 50 km a day at about 2–4 km per hour and the deepest recorded dive was 72 m. They can even spend weeks away at sea, dozing and eating among the waves.

What do they eat?
They must go to sea to eat. Here they feast on fish, squid, krill pilchards, anchovies and small crustaceans.

How do they reproduce?
They usually build their nests in crevices between rocks or burrows in September. The male penguins attract a mate by doing the digging, often rebuilding old nests. The female will lay two eggs and the pair take turns incubating them in one or two day shifts. Both eggs may hatch but usually only one chick survives.

What else do I need to know?
Little Penguins are the smallest penguin species in the world. They have a blue to black head and back, with white belly and throat. Their flippers are black with a white edge. The bill is dark brown and the feet are pink to light grey. They can grow to a maximum height of 40 cm.

Where do they fit in the tree of life?
Species: minor
Genus: Eudyptula
Family: Spheniscidae
Order: Sphenisciformes
Class: Aves
Subphylum: Vertebra
Phylum: Chordata
Kingdom: Animalia

What is their conservation status?
Little Penguins have an IUCN status of Least Concern
In NSW, some populations are Endangered.

Details

  • Title: Little Penguin
  • Creator: M Kuhn
  • Rights: MKuhn - Flickr

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