The little penguin (Eudyptula minor) is the world’s smallest penguin. It is also known as blue penguins, fairy penguins, and little penguins. The penguin breeds all along the islands of New Zealand and Australia. The global population of little penguins is about 350,000 – 600,000. It is thought to occur in New South Wales and Tasmania. Scientists aren’t clear however if these birds are vagrants.
Little Blue Penguin Facts
- Adult penguins stand only 15.7–17.7 in (40–45 cm) tall and weighs up to 2.2 lb (1 kg).
- Little penguins are primarily recognized by their bluish or dark-indigo dorsal and white underparts. They have gray to hazel eyes and black stout bill.
- Young and adults are almost same in appearance except that they have brighter plumage as compared to adults.
- Predators of little penguins are white-bellied sea eagles, feral cats, and dogs.
- Blue penguins are remarkable swimmers because of their white flipper-like feet.
See also: Penguin Facts For Kids
Range & Habitat
- Little blue penguins are thought to occur on the coastal New Zealand as well as the southern coast of Australia including Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania, and offshore islands. They are also found in the Western Australia.
- There are roughly 20,000 breeding pairs of little penguins in Babel Islands.
- Studies show that the population in New Zealand has declined nearly 70% of what they were 50 years back. Some of the colonies have disappeared while others are at risk as in Motunau Island.
- In Australia they are given protection from the terrestrial animals and humans. The Montague Island hosts the largest colony in Australia. Tasmania is home to 110,000 – 190,000 blue penguins.
- Blue penguins are likely to make homes in bays or estuaries. They breed along the temperate inshore waters, secluded bays, base of cliffs, or promontories.
- Little penguins mostly travel no more than 0.6 mi (1 km) away from the shore in search of food.
- They will roost and feed either alone or in pairs in burrows.
Feeding Ecology & Diet
- Little blue penguins are most likely to feed on crustaceans, clupeoid fish, and cephalopods. The New Zealand population relies on slender sprat, red cod, ahuru, arrow squid, and Graham’s gudgeon.
- Blue penguin’s diet also consists of anchovy and barracouta.
- They dive no more than 2 meters deep and their dive lasts about 21 seconds. However little penguins are capable to dive 20 meters deep with the maximum duration of about one minute.
See also: Largest Penguin in the World
- Depending on the location and habitat, blue penguins attain maturity at different ages. Females mature earlier at 2 years age while males attain maturity at 3 years of age.
- The build nests on shores close to the water. The female deposits eggs in burrows which may be abandoned by other birds. The nesting sites include caves, under logs, rock crevices, and under mounds of tussock-grass. They build nest of grass and other green material. In human populated areas, little penguins lay on stacks of wood, boxes, and timber.
- Blue penguins are monogamous species as they pair for life.
- Unlike any other penguin species little penguins can produce more than one clutch of eggs in one breeding season.
- A female lays 1 – 2 mottled brown eggs from July to mid-November.
- The period of incubation lasts about 9 weeks.
- Both parents feed the chicks for about 18 – 38 days. Young penguins fledge out in about 49 – 56 days.
- Parents usually get back to their colonies at sunset to feed the young. But they do form small groups in order to feel safe from predators.