As the chicks get older they grow denser feathers and at three weeks old they can regulate their own body temperature and don't need to be brooded by the parents anymore. Under the parent's belly is still the best place though but it gets a bit tight like for Mandy and her two chicks here: one has given up trying to be under the belly, but the other still wants to be there!
Thor and her mate gave us a bit of a surprise last week: they had left their chick home alone. While this inevitably happens eventually the chick was a little young: only 4 weeks old. It is cause for alarm because it can mean one of the parents has died and Thor is only a 2-year old and her mate had not bred in many years. So we weighed the chick then and there and again two days later and it had increased it's weight from 1.7kg to 2kg and we breathed a sigh of relief. The chick obviously was not starving and on the second visit one parent was home again. We will continue to keep a close eye on this family and will take the chick into rehab if it starts loosing weight. Hopefully that is not going to be necessary for another few weeks. Yellow-eyed penguin adults make much better parents than us. Fingers crossed!
This super-sponsored yellow-eyed penguin family - mum is Chiara - has one of the oldest chicks in the colony and though they had to be treated, they are now doing fantastic. Stewie Junior lost his wife from last year and hooked up with a wee 2-year old who laid him two fertile eggs. This is somewhat unusual as many 2-year old females lay only one egg and even if she lays two eggs, often one or both are not fertile. Not Ciara, she had two and both hatched and are now thriving.
It's almost December and we are now getting to our favourite time of year with cuteness overload as the chicks are growing so fast. These two chicks are doing very well under the watchful eye of dad on this occasion while mum is out fishing.
If you are wondering about the little bag hanging over them there, this contains citrus-based smell salts that we are hung up to deter the mosquitos as we had avian malaria kill adults and chicks last year. It's been a cold and wet November which hopefully made mosquitos less likely to breed in big numbers. We also treat all standing water with stuff that ought to kill the eggs and larvae.
This sponsored yellow-eyed penguin lady is always one of the last to lay her eggs so she has the youngest chicks in the colony (except for Vivek) and though they had to be treated for Diphtheria they are now doing well and growing. We are now not expecting any more new cases but had to treat about 80% of our chicks over the last month and now we have 54 chicks left alive of the 68 that hatched. We never not loose any chicks and the 54 chicks represent a big effort and we are pleased with the outcome.
Unfortunately we have to report that the wee yellow-eyed penguin chick that was being raised in Penny Box 3 has died. This is the last photo when it was smaller. It had Diphtheria but we had treated it successfully and it was a little small for its size but otherwise fine. And then it was dead. Mum is only two and dad only three years old and neither have bred before. They have had a practice run this year - but for now they get the summer off. Hopefully this year's experience will serve them next year and they will raise a chick or two then.
Not every yellow-eyed penguin gets to dote on chicks. This is Mr Emma (who is named so because his chick was called Emma by kind sponsors a couple of years ago). The Hotel was used by a different pair last year who raised 2 chicks but moved one house along. Mr Emma himself raised a couple of very fat chicks somewhere else - he is a great dad - but Mrs Emma did not return this spring. So here we have given him an egg to keep warm so he won't take over the neighbour's chick and he seems quite mellow - he wasn't always so - and content to guard his house and egg.
The old boy moves around a bit and has chosen Brent's sponsored box this year. They have a couple of chicks and doing well so far. Odd Simen was really unlucky last year: his chick died of Malaria close to fledging. It was quite heart-breaking. However, he has the next two well on the way - fingers crossed - they fledge successfully this time.
They were one of the first ones to hatch and got Diphtheria quite badly but survived, probably because they were a bit older. The chicks build up their immune system and have a much higher chance of survival if they are a little bit older. Aged 3 weeks and they are safe even if they get it bad.
November is such a difficult month for us with the yellow-eyed penguin chicks getting sick. We had a total of 67 chicks hatched (one to go...) and lost 8 so far. We had to treat 72% (48 chicks) for Diphtheria so far and it ain't over yet. Hopefully it will be in a week's time. Realising that our sponsors want to know what's happening with their box families, parents and chicks, here is a run-down to all the current sponsorships:
Bequette (photo) and 2 chicks Jax and Chris: fine, not treated.
Janet: 2 chicks (treated - and so far alive but very young still)
Thor: 1 chick - treated and survived
Odd Simen in Brent Sinclair's box: 2 chicks, fine, not treated
Jordana Whyte's box: 2 chicks - treated - so far alive
Penny Box 1: 2 chicks, fine
Mandy: 2 chicks, fine
Clayden and Alicia How: 1 egg - did not hatch, the pair is having the summer off
Morgan in the Remembrance box: 2 chicks, treated and survived
Penny Box 3: 1 chick - treated - so far alive
Stitches: both chicks dead - she will be taking the summer off.
Jacob Thompson box: 2 chicks - treated and survived
Dylan: 2 chicks - treated and survived
Vivek: 1 egg was pipping yesterday, the other one hopefully will hatch as well. The eggs were laid late and hatching is even later - they are the last ones.
Poppy: 2 chicks - treated and survived
Stewie Junior and Ciara in Uncle Chang's box: treated and survived
Mrs 31: 2 chicks - fine
Chicky: 1 chick - treated and survived
Jackson in Anja & Alfred's box: 1 chick - treated and survived
We will be posting photos presently. So far the chicks have been very small and hard to capture on camera as they usually have their head under the parent's bum and all you see are a couple of fluffy bottoms. Soon there will be cuteness overload!