Posts Tagged ‘little penguins’

Little Blue Penguins Settling In To The Bronx

June 16, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that the colony of Little Blue Penguins which has recently made its debut in the Aquatic Bird House at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo are settling in nicely. Julie-Larsen-Maher_6157_Little-Penguins_ABH_BZ_05-14-15Named for their small size and characteristic bluish hue, little blue penguins are also known as blue penguins, little penguins, and fairy penguins. Full-grown adults are only about 13 inches tall and weigh 2 to 3 pounds. They are the smallest of the 18 penguin species and native to coastal southern Australia and New Zealand. These are the first little blue penguins to be on exhibit at the Bronx Zoo and there are only three facilities in the U.S. that currently have them.  All of the birds in the colony were hatched at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia and brought to the Bronx Zoo as part of a breeding program. Approximately 15 penguins a year hatch at Taronga, making it the most successful little penguin breeding program in the world. The Bronx Zoo penguins will help ensure continued genetic diversity in the little penguin populations in the U.S.

“The little penguins are acclimating well to their new home and are quite a sight to see,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and General Director of the WCS Zoos and Aquarium. “The Bronx Zoo is focused on the conservation of the species we exhibit, and international partnerships and breeding programs like that of the little penguin are vital to ensuring the survival of the species in the wild through education, awareness, and connecting people to nature in a way that can only be accomplished through close, in-person encounters.”

Taronga Zoo Director and Chief Executive, Cameron Kerr, said: “The little penguins at the Bronx Zoo have taken on the role of international ambassadors for their species. Visitors to the Bronx Zoo from around the world can come to learn about these wonderful Australian marine animals. This group of little penguins will ensure a thriving population in the U.S. for many years to come.”

The species occurs in temperate marine waters and feed on fish, cephalopods and crustaceans. They nest colonially in burrows on sand dunes or rocky beach areas. Like other penguin species, they use a wide range of vocalizations to communicate with each other. In the wild, their populations are threatened by climate change and human activities.

The Bronx Zoo is supporting Taronga Zoo’s little penguin conservation programs in Sydney Harbor.  The work includes monitoring, awareness campaigns, rescue and rehabilitation, breeding programs, and more. Man-made nest boxes can provide safety from introduced predators and guard dogs have been used in some places to discourage predation.

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Little Penguins Big Hit In The Bronx

May 25, 2015

If you’ve ever thought the only thing that could be cuter than a baby penguin would be a baby penguin that never grows up, your wish has sort of come true. It turns out there’s a species of very small penguins officially called…the Little Penguin or the Little Blue Penguin.

At just over a foot tall and weighing only two to three pounds full grown, the native Australian Little Penguins are the smallest penguins in the world. They’re also called Fairy penguins, and you could even go with “blue penguins” as well—a name that references the blue tone of the species’ feathers—and still be understood by the average penguin expert.  maxresdefault

Now, the Penguin Post has learned that the nonprofit Wildlife Conservation Society of New York has just put a breeding colony of the penguins on exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. It’s the first time the diminutive species has been in residence anywhere in New York, according to WCS. “The little penguins are acclimating well to their new home and are quite a sight to see,” said Jim Breheny, general director of the WCS zoos and aquarium, in a statement.

Little penguins are listed as a species “of least concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of endangered species—although at least one population, a breeding colony in Sydney Harbor, has been declared endangered by the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage.

Little penguin wild populations are declining overall, however, in part because of the impacts of climate change. Recent studies show that more intense coastal storms, warming waters, and changing ocean currents drive off the krill, small fish, and squid that little penguins feed on. Swimming farther from their nests to find food puts a lot of stress on the adult birds, leading to underweight chicks and lower chick survival rates.

Little Blue Penguins Tracked

September 15, 2013

Little blue penguin enthusiasts will soon know more about the fishing habits of the birds whose movements are about to be tracked for the first time on the West Coast of New Zealand. Six GPS tracking devises will be fitted onto penguins from two colonies with nest boxes at Charleston and will track their movements at sea. The Blue Penguin Trust  of New Zealand had been measuring breeding success at Charleston, including when eggs were laid, when chicks hatched and how many chicks survived, said trust ranger Reuben Lane. “That’s given us a pretty good idea of what’s happening on land. That’s why we’re moving to this tracking study because we sort of need to fill in the other part of the picture,” said Mr Lane. “They are marine birds, they spend most of their time at sea, so we kind of need to know about that.” The trust hoped to find out where the penguins were fishing. That information had implications when marine reserves, bottom trawling or any activity that might impact the penguins was being discussed. “If we don’t know where they’re going then we can’t have an intelligent input into that kind of discussion,” said Mr Lane. While there had been a lot of work done on tracking penguins, none had been done on New Zealand’s West Coast. The Coast’s birds and its fisheries were different to elsewhere in the country. Antarctic currents meant the east coast had a rich sea life close to the shore, whereas he thought the birds struggled more on the West Coast. Analysis of stomach contents showed Coast birds often seemed to have to feed on squid, which Mr Lane described as “the tofu of the sea” without much nutritional value. Temperatures on the West Coast also meant the fish tended to be more spread out and harder to catch. While it was the first time the devices were being used on the Coast, the same work had been done at Phillip Island near Melbourne in Australia. Mr Lane said he was there in May learning how to apply the devices. The devices were smaller than a matchbox. They were taped to the feathers on the penguins’ backs, just above their tails, so they could still steer. They were designed not to create drag and didn’t seem to hinder the birds. The GPS devices would be put on birds with young chicks who were going out fishing for a day at a time, leaving at dawn, then returning just after dark. They would stay on each bird for a day before being moved onto another one. Mr Lane said the first penguin chick should hatch in about three weeks time so he hoped to deploy a few tracking units in mid-October.

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Little Penguins Experiencing Baby Boom

November 19, 2009

The Penguin Post has learned Little Penguins of South East Australia are experiencing a baby boom in the Phillip Island and St Kilda colonies. Breeding started early at the Phillip Island colony of 26,000 birds and researchers hope many penguins will have a second brood this season. The St Kilda population had declined by a quarter to 750 birds last year but with more chicks this spring, researchers estimate their numbers will improve to more than 800 this year. ”It’s great to have a nice early start to the breeding season as we haven’t had one of those for 10 years,” said Phillip Island Nature Park research manager Dr Peter Dann. ”There’s obviously a lot of food about and that is the primary reason that penguins are doing well.” Earthcare St Kilda penguin research co-ordinator Zoe Hogg said she believed the decline of the St Kilda population last year was caused by bay dredging reducing anchovy numbers, a primary food source. ”They didn’t do very well last year but they are coming good and are obviously well fed,” she said. ”I don’t know if it is the fact there is no disturbance because they feed at the mouth of the Yarra River and in the channel.” While the St Kilda penguins begin their breeding cycle earlier, most Phillip Island penguins are in the late stages of incubation. About 70 per cent of the eggs hatch into chicks. The chicks then become fledglings and head to sea after eight weeks.