Fiordland penguin

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Fiordland penguin
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Sphenisciformes
Family: Spheniscidae
Genus: Eudyptes
E. pachyrhynchus
Binomial name
Eudyptes pachyrhynchus
Current breeding range

The Fiordland penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus), also known as the Fiordland crested penguin (in Māori, tawaki or pokotiwha), is a crested penguin species endemic to New Zealand. It currently breeds along the south-western coasts of New Zealand's South Island as well as on Stewart Island/Rakiura and its outlying islands.[2] Because it originally ranged beyond Fiordland, it is sometimes referred to as the New Zealand crested penguin.[3] It is occasionally found in Australia.[4]


The Fiordland crested penguin was described in 1845 by English zoologist George Robert Gray, its specific epithet derived from the Ancient Greek pachy-/παχυ- "thick" and rhynchos/ρύγχος "beak".[5] It is one of six species in the genus Eudyptes, the generic name derived from the Ancient Greek eu/ευ "good" and dyptes/δύπτης "diver".[5]


The Fiordland penquin has a prominent yellow crest on its head

This species is a medium-sized, yellow-crested, black-and-white penguin, growing to approximately 60 cm (24 in) long and weighing on average 3.7 kg (8.2 lb), with a weight range of 2 to 5.95 kg (4.4 to 13.1 lb).[6] It has dark, bluish-grey upperparts with a darker head, and white underparts. Its broad, yellow eyebrow-stripe extends over the eye and drops down the neck. It can be distinguished from the similar erect-crested penguin (Eudyptes sclateri) and Snares penguin (Eudyptes robustus) in having no bare skin around the base of its bill.[7] Female Fiordland penguins lay a clutch of two eggs where the first-laid egg is much smaller than the second egg, generally hatches later, and shows higher mortality, demonstrating a brood reduction system that is unique from other avian groups.[8]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

This penguin nests in colonies among tree roots and rocks in dense temperate coastal forest. It breeds along the shores in the West Coast of the South Island, south of about Bruce Bay and the Open Bay Islands, around Fiordland and Foveaux Strait, and on Stewart Island/Rakiura and its outlying islands.[7] Fossils of this species have been found as far north as the northern end of the South Island, and they probably once nested in the North Island as well.[9] Their range drastically reduced by hunting in Polynesian times, and they are now only found in the least-populated part of New Zealand.[3] The species is also present in Australia.[10][11]


The main prey species reported are cephalopods (85%, mainly arrow squid, Nototodarus sloanii), followed by crustaceans (13%, primarily krill, Nyctiphanes australis) and fish (2%, mainly red cod and hoki). However, the importance of cephalopods might be exaggerated.[12] Prey taken seems to vary between Codfish Island and northern Fiordland.[13]


Fiordland crested penguins are classed as vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN,[1] and their status was changed from vulnerable to endangered by the Department of Conservation in 2013.[13] Surveys in the 1990s counted 2,500 pairs, though this was likely an underestimate; based on historic trends, the population is probably continuing to decline. The main threats are introduced predators such dogs, cats, rats, and especially stoats. They are also vulnerable to human disturbance, fleeing nests and leaving chicks exposed to predators.[13]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2020). "Eudyptes pachyrhynchus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020: e.T22697776A182279725. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T22697776A182279725.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ Mattern, Thomas (2013). "Chapter 10: Fiordland penguin Eudyptes pachyrhynchus". In Garcia-Borboroglu, Pablo & Boersma, P. Dee (eds.). Penguins: Natural History and Conservation. University of Washington Press. pp. 152–167. ISBN 978-0-253-34034-4.
  3. ^ a b Worthy, Trevor H.; Holdaway, Richard N. (2002). The Lost World of the Moa. Bloomington IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34034-9.
  4. ^ "Rare penguins' Aussie arrival not a good sign, researcher says". ABC News. 11 July 2023.
  5. ^ a b Liddell, Henry George & Robert Scott (1980). A Greek-English Lexicon (Abridged ed.). United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-910207-4.
  6. ^ CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
  7. ^ a b Heather, Barrie; Robertson, Hugh (2015). The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. New Zealand: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-143-57092-9.
  8. ^ St. Clair, Colleen (1992). "Incubation Behavior, Brood Patch Formation and Obligate Brood Reduction in Fiordland Crested Penguins". Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 31 (6): 409–416. doi:10.1007/bf00170608. S2CID 189890803 – via JSTOR.
  9. ^ Worthy, Trevor H. (1997). "The identification of fossil Eudyptes and Megadyptes bones at Marfell's Beach, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand". New Zealand Natural Sciences. 23: 71–85.
  10. ^ Fanning, L., Larsen, H., & Taylor, P. S. (2020). A preliminary study investigating the impact of musical concerts on the behavior of captive fiordland penguins (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus) and collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu). Animals, 10(11), 2035.
  11. ^ Theresa L Cole, Jonathan M Waters, Lara D Shepherd, Nicolas J Rawlence, Leo Joseph, Jamie R Wood; Ancient DNA reveals that the ‘extinct’ Hunter Island penguin (Tasidyptes hunteri) is not a distinct taxon. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, zlx043,
  12. ^ van Heezik, Y (1989). "Diet of the Fiordland Crested penguin during the post-guard phase of chick growth". Notornis. 36: 151–156.
  13. ^ a b c Ellenberg, U. (2013). Miskelly, C.M. (ed.). "Fiordland crested penguin". New Zealand Birds Online. Retrieved 23 March 2017.

External links[edit]