Remember these guys being brown and fluffy only a few weeks ago? Well, these yellow-eyed penguin chicks in our rehab facility certainly have done a lot of growing up and are ready to be released. For now though - just after dinner - there is quiet in the kindergarten and much snoozing and dreaming to be done!
Introducing a recently sponsored yellow-eyed penguin chick - who turned out to be royalty - a descendant of our founding breeding pair Diesel Dick and Sweetpea who were the first to breed at Katiki Point after being released from the rehab facility. Spikes great-grand-mother was one of their first-hatched chicks who - like her father Diesel - got to live over 20 years and produced many many chicks. Diesel and Sweetpea had 29 chicks together and our colonies has many of their direct descendants still living and breeding here. Spike has excellent genes to live a long life - may he thrive and make lots of baby penguins!! - oh, and he likes boxes!
Maybe Penguino should be called Penguina - it's a girl afterall - not that it matters really. This is her last photo in the colony - she had lost weight and so she is now a guest in our fine establishment. Every penguin we bring into rehab has their blood tested for avian Malaria so that we can try to diagnose the disease and treat it before the bird gets too ill for the meds to work. Penguino so far is doing very well and will be released as soon as she is old and fat enough!!
This is our last photo of both Dylan's chicks in the colony. We decided to bring one in and a week later the other - keeping in mind that Dylan hasn't bred in a few years and he has an inexperienced 3-year old wife - enough already. The chicks' weights weren't great. The chicks that we left in the colony didn't put on any weight after the sibling went to rehab. So it also was taken to rehab - this way the parents can keep the food and prepare for their annual moult.
The two chicks living next door to this sponsored box have moved in. Their parents might just choose this one for next year because the sheep must have rubbed against their nest box and totally demolished it. It was quite old so it wasn't a surprise. For now the chicks think that Penny Box 2 is pretty nice - and cool as it has been quite warm.
This wee yellow-eyed penguin girl has many fingers and toes crossed for her by lovely sponsors. She is also one of the very few now left in the colony - she has lost her ruff now and she is fat enough for us not to worry. She had her last weigh-in yesterday and put 5.3kg on the scales. This is about average and being a girl it is pretty good. Her sibling has been in rehab since December and is doing well. It's likely to be a female as well and will be up for going into the soft-release pens next weekend - provided she is heavy enough.
The first and oldest chicks have fledged and the first five of our hospital chicks have graduated to soft-release pens in the colony. These are newly renovated and mosquito-proof pens in the colony where the chicks will reside for 1 week and fed once a day. This way they get to know the locals, hopefully imprint on the beach and colony and associate it with something pleasurable like 'eating' ie being fed when you are hungry. We hope to increase the chance they come back here to be rescued if necessary so they get another chance at life. It works, we have had birds return and sit in the open pen waiting for us to come and get them - or at the very least come and bring fish! One more week for these guys and then the gates will be opened and they are free to go........
It's been hot and cleaning the pens out often involves giving the yellow-eyed penguin chicks in our care a shower - and they love it. This one is going crazy with it - such joy!!
Yes, our favourite yellow-eyed penguin chick is also gone into the big blue. She was our first - first egg, first chick, first to micro-chip and now first to leave (same day as Ludwig III) - on the last weigh-in she put 5.9kg on the scales: that is very impressive for a female and kudos to her father mostly. Her mother is currently resident in our fine establishment up the hill and we are trying to work out if she has Malaria. Her bloods are being tested and she will receive treatment if they come back positive. Come back Pompey if you are in trouble, we will try and fix it......
This is our last photo of Ludwig III, a much-loved yellow-eyed penguin chick sponsored here in our North Otago colony and loved on FB. Ludwig was a singleton, much spoilt by his parents and one of the heaviest chicks produced this season, healthy and fat. He was gone yesterday - exactly on time, he was up for 'disappearing' aka fledging. It's hard for us to let them go - we just hope that they come back if they are in trouble.