We have chicks in our yellow-eyed penguin colony! Here are a couple that are about 5 days old.
For the first 2-3 weeks these chicks are vulnerable to Diphtheria that can kill them so we are extra vigilant to spot early signs such as bold flippers and small size for age. These are doing ok and have no symptoms so far but we will be checking them every other day because it can kill them within 24-48 hours. Nervous times for us but we can treat them if they do indeed get sick. Keeping fingers and toes crossed!
Those of you who have been following our posts for a while will remember this nest: it's the same pair that we caught mating - sort of - the ones that did the tango and brought nesting material. Here they are with their first egg. One of them is on the nest guarding - but not incubating - it while the other is nearby. They often park right next to the camera - effectively photo bombing it.
The yellow-eyed penguins lay their two eggs about 3-4 days apart but the chicks hatch usually on the same day. The first egg is guarded but not incubated until the second arrives. They then lie on them properly for about 6 weeks until the chicks hatch.
This is a box with a kind sponsor in a part of our colony we have recently opened up for the penguins. The penguins loved it and moved right in. They are an experienced pair and have two fertile eggs and we are looking forward to posting some baby photos soon. Not long now!
We have many more special penguins but we wanted to feature some of our special nest boxes and thus acknowledge our sponsors for generously donating to our charitable trust which allows us to continue our work for the penguins.
So first up is a box sponsored by Alina and Silas, a couple of kids from the other side of the planet who wanted their names on the yellow-eyed penguin breeding box all the way over here. There is never a guarantee that penguins will pick a sponsored box but in their case it met with the penguins' approval and here is dad with his two eggs. So thank you Alina and Silas for your kind donation. Soon there will be baby photos to post too!!
If you want to know more about sponsoring a nest box or a penguin please visit http://www.penguins.org.nz/donate.html to see the options. All donations are gratefully received and go to the penguin work in full.
It has gone quiet in the yellow-eyed penguin colony for now with the breeding pairs busy incubating their eggs. Until we can post cute baby photos of their chicks that are due to start hatching in about 2 weeks, we will introduce you to some of our special penguins - special for different reasons.
This is Diana. She is special because she is a two-year old who has been through our rehab facility as chick (before fledging) and twice as a chick post-fledging (she couldn't work out how to catch a fish but she was clever enough to come home and get a top-up from us) and then a year later as a juvenile through the moult she got another wee top-up. So, lots of help but the ultimate reward came when she laid an egg the other day with her frazzled boy-friend (an experienced older male who had to defend her against the attention of at least 3 others males who also wanted to breed with her!!)
We were very happy with one egg but a few days later she laid a second egg! (as a two-year old it is unusual for yellow-eyed penguins to lay two eggs: one egg is the norm.)
So a toast to Diana, who has defied death at least 4 times in only 2 years of life and broken the 1-egg-laid-by-2-year-old-females rule. May it long last, may these and all future eggs be fertile, her chicks strong, her mate competent and faithful and may she live and breed to a ripe old age (rehab facility just up the hill if required!).
Although the yellow-eyed penguins have eggs now and are incubating we wanted to share one more courting video with you. Here a pair is dancing the tango..... Enjoy!
The yellow-eyed penguins might have laid their eggs but nest building continues enthusiastically in the evenings when the mate comes home from fishing and in the morning before s/he goes out to sea. It is rather sweet to watch them on our countless video clips walking to and fro and bringing back bits of vegetation and dropping it at the edge of the nest. The bird on the nest then incorporates it into the bowl while chattering away complimenting their mate on their fine choice of grass.
Penguins have very, very sharp edges of their beaks to get a good hold on slippery fish and sometimes the grasses get stuck and won't drop easily...... neck contortions are then called for! Enjoy!
Our trail cameras have recorded the efforts of the hard-working yellow-eyed penguins as they are constructing their nests. This is a particularly industrious pair and they have ended up with a huge nest. Notice how the penguin on the nest chats to the one bringing the gift and incorporates the new grass into the nest straight away. Such devotion!
The courtship of yellow-eyed penguins involves a lot of snogging - as evidenced in the previous posts - but they are also bring their mates gifts - the penguin equivalent of a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers. Nesting material if of course needed for their nest and some pairs build big nest with all the different bits of vegetation that they can find in their surroundings - some are big, some are small, others are huge and bulky! They are very industrious at this time of year trying to impress their mates! Enjoy!