Eudyptes sclateri nests on several New Zealand islands, and feeds in sub-Antarctic waters. It gathers in large colonies of thousands of birds, and often nests alongside other penguins such as rockhoppers. After the male has secured a nesting site, the female joins to build a nest and lay two eggs. Little else is known about this species, but it’s believed to feed on krill and squid.
The population of E. sclateri has undergone a rapid decline in recent years, and the small breeding range is thought to make it vulnerable. It is unclear what the main threats to this species are.
E. sclateri is protected within a World Heritage site, and all cattle and rats have been eradicated from one of islands on which this species breeds.
Sheepdog ‘bodyguards’ protect endangered penguins from foxes, saving them from extinction
by Michael Graham Richard
"No foxes have killed penguins in the past seven years"
This is clever. Very clever. Sheepdogs are bred and trained to protect sheep against wolves, but that doesn’t mean that their skills can’t be used to protect different animals against other species of predators. This is exactly what the Maremma Project did on Warrnambool’s Middle Island, off the south coast of Australia. They took 2 Maremma sheepdogs, a breed originally from central Italy, and brought them to the island to protect a dwindling and seriously endangered population of Little Penguins from foxes.
The situation was dire around seven years ago when the sheepdogs were introduced: Where a colony of around 1,500 Little Penguins once thrived, only 4 breeding pairs remained. The colony was truly on the brink of extinction, at least on the island. We first wrote about this about four-and-a-half years ago, and since then things have kept improving, surpassing the expectations of pretty much everyone involved. The last census showed about 200 breeding adults, but most importantly, not one Little Penguin has been killed by a fox since their dog bodyguards landed on the island! …
Also known as the Fiordland penguin or the Tawaki, the Fiordland crested penguin is a species of crested penguin found along the Fiordland coast of New Zealand and Stewart Island. Like other penguins the Fiordland penguin is mainly pelagic and will spend long times at sea feeding on squid, fish and crustaceans, which are usually caught near the shore. During the breeding season Fiordland crested penguins will build their nests in coastal temperate forests, one penguin will tend to the nest and guard its chick while the other will go out and catch food. Once the young is old enough its guardian will leave to hunt as well, and after the chick molts it will leave the nest and move on out to sea. Currently the Fiordland crested penguin is listed as vulnerable as its threatened by introduced predators like dogs and cats.
Long, long ago, O Best Beloved, the ancestor of the penguins could soar through the air. So why did the penguin give up flight? Rudyard Kipling never wrote a Just So story with an answer, but now scientists have one: The penguin doesn’t fly because it would rather swim.
A new study of murres, penguinlike seabirds that retain the ability to take wing, shows just how costly and inefficient it is to be both a diver and a flyer. The new findings back the long-held hypothesis that penguins gave up the heavens more than 70 million years ago to become kings of the waves.
"This study contributes a lot by putting hard numbers on the energy costs of moving through both the aerial and aquatic realms," writes Daniel Ksepka of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, who studies penguin evolution and was not involved with the research, in an e-mail…
These king penguin chicks were pictured in early spring of this year in the colony at St. Andrew Bay, South Georgia. King penguins colonize in huge groups, and this colony is more than 100,000 penguins strong. Park regulations mandate that only 100 people may be ashore at any one time and must stay 10 meters away from the colony.
The park asks that visitors “Take particular care not to disturb, or shift, moulting king penguins.”
The largest penguin species, the Emperor Penguin, has an adaptation in its bones (which is special amongst bird species) that allows it to survive deep dives for food. Do you know what that adaptation is?
The bones of the Emperor Penguin are solid, rather than hollow, which eliminates the risk of mechanical barotrauma that would otherwise occur during deep dives with pressures up to 40 times that found on the surface. Most bird species have at least some bones that are hollow, or pneumatized, allowing for flight.
Some penguin species, like the Emperor Penguin, and the Ostrich, do not have these hollow bones. Notice, these are the bird species that do not fly.
(via: Biodiversity Heritage Library)
image from The American natural history; a foundation of useful knowledge of the higher animals of North America, 1914, by William T. Hornaday
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for the establishment of increased protections in two parts of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica at an event held last night (March 18) by The Pew Charitable Trusts at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C.
"The Ross Sea … is a natural laboratory. And we disrespect it at our peril, as we do the rest of the ocean," Kerry said in his remarks at the event, which also screened the award-winning documentary "The Last Ocean," which highlights the Ross Sea…
Emperor Penguins with blue bellies, green beaks, and red eyes huddle over a patch of black snow — a multicolored Antarctic landscape, as seen through the eye of an infrared thermal imager.
The psychedelic colors, which correspond to different temperatures, reveal that much of a penguin’s outer surface is cooler than the surrounding air — except, of course, for their unfeathered eyes, beaks, and feet.
“Most of the body that is covered by thick plumage was found to be, on average, 4 to 6 degreesC colder than surrounding air temperature,” said biophysical ecologist Dominic McCafferty of the University of Glasgow. Only the birds’ eyes measured above freezing. “At first, we were very surprised by this discovery,” he said.
The observations, reported today in Biology Letters, suggest that extreme radiative cooling draws heat from a penguin’s feathery surface. (On a clear, cold night, you can see the effects of radiative cooling in the frost that forms on windows, roofs, and grasses.) But because they’re insulated beneath layers of feathers and fat, the birds can still maintain a body temperature of about 39 degrees C (102 degrees F), even when shuffling through the -40 C Antarctic night…
Emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) are famous for their familial devotion, with males incubating a single egg for more than 2 months while their mates travel to the sea for food. But their commitment typically lasts for only one breeding season. Emperor penguins usually latch onto a mate quickly after returning to the colony, and if the previous year’s partner isn’t around, he or she will find someone else.