Erect crested penguin
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Description
The majority of the breeding population is on the remote Antipodes and Bounty Islands, with smaller numbers on the Auckland Islands. Stragglers are often seen at other subantarctic islands in the New Zealand region and some make it to the New Zealand mainland, usually to moult.

Physical Characteristics
One of the largest of the crested penguins, the erect-crested penguin stands at approx 50cm and weighs up to 4kg. The parallel, brush-like crests identify adults of this species, however it is easily confused with the Fiordland and Snares crested penguins. Key identification features are the strip of bare skin on the bottom edge of the bill and the crest starting at the gape of the bill. In both Fiordland and Snares penguins the crest starts at the base of the top plate of the bill.

Habitat
Inhabitants of the sun-antarctic oceans, erect-crested penguins breed in large colonies on rocky coasts, often climbing very steep faces to breed on rock platforms. Will often breed alongside rockhopper penguins.

Breeding
The males return to their breeding colonies in September, the females following two weeks later. Competition for nest sites can be fierce and fighting is common.

A very simple nest is made, often comprising of just a few stones and a little mud. Two eggs are laid, the first of which is usually lost. The second egg is up to 100% the size of the first and is the only one seriously incubated. The chicks fledge in February and the adults return to sea for the winter after moulting in March.

Diet and feeding
Little is known of the erect-crested's diet, but it is thought that they are pelagic feeders, dining on fish and krill near the surface and that they may travel hundreds of kilometers in search of food.

 

Threats
The population of erect-crested penguins may be decreasing, but the extent of this and reasons for it are not understood. Most of their breeding habitats are free of introduced predators so this does not appear to be a significant factor. Skua and giant petrels will take porly guarded eggs and chicks. More >>

 

Viewing
Unfortunately, the only way to view erect-crested penguins is to make a trip to a sub-antarctic island. A number of cruise ships visit the sub-antarctic region every year, many calling at New Zealand on their way. A few individuals, mainly juveniles, moult on the Otago coast late in the summer.


Map
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