As recorded by Oliver, two exploring expeditions, the American Exploring Expedition and the French expedition commanded by Admiral D’Urville, visited the Auckland Islands in March, 1840. Both collected specimens of the yellow-eyed penguin. The British Antarctic Expedition under Sir James Clark Ross obtained specimens both at the Auckland and Campbell Islands in November and December, 1840. From the coast of New Zealand this penguin was first obtained by the British expedition in 1841. About 1885 it was discovered breeding on the Otago Peninsular by P. Seymour and it was in this locality that its life history was worked out in detail over a period of eighteen years by L.E. Richdale.
The yellow-eyed penguin is a resident species, remaining in the vicinity of its breeding places throughout the winter. This was demonstrated by Richdale during his investigations on the Otago Peninsula. He observed, too, that the birds come ashore for the night at all times of the year. The localities favoured by this species when ashore are scrub and forest covered slopes facing the sea both on the mainland and on islands. Richdale has noted them up to half a mile inland. They come ashore on both rocky and sandy beaches and have been seen climbing a considerable distance up a loose sandy slope.
Where the yellow-eyed penguin has come into contact with European settlement it has suffered a considerable reduction in numbers. This is the case on the Otago Peninsular where a good deal of the forest has been cleared with the consequent destruction of the bird's breeding grounds. For the birds on the Otago Peninsular, Richdale informs me that squid and small fish, yellow-eyed mullet and red cod, have been identified by him as part of the food of the yellow-eyed penguin.
The nests of the yellow-eyed penguin are generally placed in the forest or scrub near the shore. The nests are placed singly, often under the shelter of a log, are sometimes two are three feet across, and consist of sticks and coarse grass. Clutch two, broadly ovoid, pointed, white eggs. According to Richdale, the birds come ashore in August and the main laying period is from the third week in September to the second week in October.
According to Richdale's account of the types of behaviour, the yellow-eyed penguin has various call notes which apparently include a good proportion of yelling.
Other common names: —
65 cm., 5.5 kg., crown and sides of face pale golden yellow, band of yellow from eye around the back of head.
Where to find: —
Breed South Island from Banks Peninsular to Bluff, Stewart, Auckland and Campbell Islands.
Illustration description: —
Buller, Walter Lawry, Birds of New Zealand, 1888.
d’Urville, Jules Sebastien Cesar Dumont, Voyage au Pole Sud et Dans L’Oceanie sur Les Corvettes L’Astrolabe et La Zélée...Pendant Les Années 1837, 1838, 1839, 1840 [Voyage to the South Pole and through Oceania on the Corvettes Astrolabe and Zélée...During the Years 1837, 1838, 1839, 1840].
Heather, B., & Robertson, H., Field Guide to the
Birds of New Zealand, 2000.
Oliver, W.R.B., New Zealand Birds, 1955.
Richdale, L. E: A Population Study of Penguins. Oxford, 1957.
Lance Richdale's book was the first long term study of any bird population. The techniques he developed have become the paradigm for all bird population studies since. In this landmark book, Richdale provides not only a very coherent and detailed description of his study of the Yellow-eyed penguins from 1936 to 1954, he also compares his data with the much sketchier data from other sources. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this work is that Richdale was not a trained researcher, he was just an amateur - a schoolmaster from Otago in New Zealand, who because of his enormous interest in the Yellow-eyed penguins became recognised as one of the foremost biologists of his time.
Page date & version: —
Saturday, 8 June 2014; ver2009v1