Our posts have not been very joyful recently so we thought we share some photos of the chicks growing up in Penny's box. These two yellow-eyed penguin chicks have been treated successfully and are certainly a handful for their doting parents now that they are feeling better. They are very lively and healthy now and we are hopeful they will make it. There is good reason to be optimistic! Enjoy!
We had a 4 days of no yellow-eyed penguin chick deaths and when we were just about to breathe a sigh of relief we have more dead. We are now down to 52 chicks all together (started with 85!) - three fewer than last year and a 39% mortality all up. It's been a terrible few weeks and we are disappointed that despite our best efforts we have been unable to keep more alive. We are at a loss as to what else we could do. Even chicks with Diphtheria that had been on antibiotics for 3 or 4 days have now died. They were young but should not have succumbed.
The photo is of two chicks that have made it without meds so far! These are the strong ones!
Yes, it was another good day for our yellow-eyed penguin colonies. No deaths again but we diagnosed another 3 nests with chicks that have diphtheria - a total of 5 chicks - but we got them in time and believe that they will make it. The photo shows the two chicks from the Penny's box being treated today. The bold flippers are still very much evident but they are growing and are responding well to the treatment. We still have some quite small chicks in our colonies as well that we need to keep a very close eye on but we are cautiously optimistic that we might be over the worst - and the light at the end of the tunnel is not an on-coming train!!!
... when all the chicks in the colony are alive. Today we did a nest round and all our yellow-eyed penguin chicks were alive. Our last death was yesterday and with every passing day the remaining chicks are getting older and stronger. We are keeping fingers and toes crossed and eyes open so we can help where required.
Thank you all for your kind messages, interest and support. Here is a wee intact family in our special Penny Hack box. They are both getting medicine and so far so good. They have almost completed their course of antibiotics and then they ought to be fully in the clear. Phew!
Things are not good. We had really good hatching in our yellow-eyed penguin colonies with a total of 85 chicks. Now we have lost a third of them. Every one of them died younger than 2 weeks old. Five went missing - no idea, 17 died so quickly we could not diagnose, never mind treat them and of the 23 chicks we treated with antibiotics 8 have died anyway. So a total of 30 chicks have died so far and we don't know what else we can do. They are all checked every other day once they reach 5 days old but many died before then. Others were fine on one visit and dead 2 days later.
The photo shows a 10 day old chick with classic Diphtheria symptoms of loss of feathers on the flippers and upper back, a sunken neck but no plaques in the mouth anymore. Here it is getting it's last dose and it will be ok. We only wish all our chicks had a good outcome as this one.
Most of our yellow-eyed penguin parents have now got chicks. This is Thor, a very special wee chick that was sponsored by a generous donor. He hatched on 28 October with his sibling and is one of a number of chicks who have fallen ill with Diphtheria. He recovered with medication from us and with the tender care from his parents and he is now in the clear. His parents have raised many chicks in the past so he has a good chance to make it now. Good luck, little Thor! We will be watching!
Here is our stressed yellow-eyed penguin pair after the fight is over and the intruder has been expelled. He is bringing a bit of nesting material and they have a bit of a smooch - aka mutual preening. It affirms their pair bond and maybe settles the nerves a little as well. Quite the contrast to the ferocious fighting they are capable of!
We were quite shocked at the frequency of our fighting yellow-eyed penguin trio - even in the dark! - and the determination of the lonely male to have an egg to sit on. Here he is again intruding on the neighbouring pair with both of them home. It is not possible to say which is which but a good guess is that the male was in front of the nest and did the fighting with the intruder while the female was on the nest.
and not in a good way. Over the last couple of years the surplus of yellow-eyed penguin males in our colonies has increased and our trail cameras have picked up a new issue: single - and lonely - males have tried to take over the neighbouring nests and the fights that have ensued have resulted in the loss of an egg (this happened in two different nests). The video below shows such a vicious fight. When we realised this was happening we took the remaining egg and fostered it to a pair without these problems and gave these a plaster egg. The fights did not stop and now that their egg is due to hatch we decided that a fragile newly-hatched chick would not survive despite the best efforts of its parents to protect it. We took their plaster egg away and they are having the summer off to sort out their differences with their neighbour - maybe move away to another nest site.
Every year we are learning something new about these penguins and we need to be vigilant to protect the next generation.