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Yellow-eyed penguin

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Yellow-eyed penguin
Yellow-eyed Penguin Family.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Megadyptes antipodes [1]

Yellow-eyed Penguin MC.jpg
The Yellow-eyed Penguin is isolating itself

The Yellow-eyed Penguin is one of the rarest penguin species in the world. They are also the 4th largest penguin species in the world.[2] The yellow-eyed penguin got their name from their yellow eyes and their yellow striped feathers that’s around their head. Their maori name is “Hoiho,” this means “the noise shouter.” [3] The yellow eyed penguin looks very similar to the little penguin, so it can be confusing which one is which; but you can differentiate the two species by checking their DNA.[4]

The yellow-eyed penguins gather in colonies, and they’re found in the southern part of New Zealand.[3] They are the only members of the genus Megadyptes; they have the longest ancestry out of all the current penguins that are living today. The yellow-eyed penguins are solitary breeders, and they’re also the least social out of all the penguin species. Also they have the largest territory size out of all the other penguin species. Their territory size can be up to 1 nest per hectare (a unit for measuring an area of land, equal to 10,000 square metres) among forested regions.[5]

Body Design

A bright yellow striped feathers that goes around it's head

The yellow-eyed penguin is one of the largest sized species out of all the penguin species. [6] They grow up to an average of 65-79cm, and before they cut their fur their body weights about 7-8kg, but after they cut their fur their body weights about 5-6kg. [7] The males are slightly larger than the female yellow-eyed penguins. [4]

The yellow-eyed penguin’s body fur is mainly black, part of their chin and their neck is a bright brownish color, and their breast and their stomach is white. Their fur on the wing (the outer side of the wings) is black, and the wings that are on the other side (the inner side of the wings) and the tip of the wings are whitish colored. The yellow-eyed penguin's face has a light yellowish color to it, and the eyes (iris) of the bird is also seen as a very bright yellowish color. [7] [4] They have a bright yellow striped feathers that goes around it's eyes, and continues towards the top of their head.[6] But in the case for the baby yellow-eyed penguin, their entire body (including the head) is a deep brownish color. Also, their eyes are not yellow like the adult yellow-eyed penguins, they actually have grey eyes. [7]

Life Cycle

A picture of a baby Yellow-eyed Penguin

Most yellow-eyed penguins live their lives around the age of 23. Male yellow-eyed penguins live longer than the female penguins.[8] Yellow-eyed penguins have the longest breeding season than all the other penguin species. They start to look for a mate between August and the end of March. [3]

While going through their breeding season, they lay their two bluish eggs in middle of October. Male and female penguins take turn to incubate their eggs for more than a week. They have to incubate their eggs for 45 days, until the egg hatches near the beginning of November. After the egg hatches, the parents will stay with them for 2 weeks. The yellow-eyed penguin is the only species that stays with their child for 2 weeks after the egg hatches. While they stay with the baby penguin, one of the parent will go to the sea and search for food, and the other penguin will stay with the baby and look after them. After the 2 weeks are over, they won’t come over as much as they used to, they will come to the baby and feed them once in a while. After 100 days, the baby must start to mature and live it’s independent life. However, after the baby becomes independent, both of the parents doesn’t leave the nest for a considerable amount of time. The couple must stay together, not because they want to, but because they must moult (to shed) themselves. The couple can’t go anywhere before they moult themselves.[9]


South part of New Zealand where the Yellow-Eyed Penguin can be seen

The yellow-eyed penguin is found at the border of New Zealand, on islands in the south. They gather in colonies along the beaches and boulder fields. The yellow-eyed penguin is also found in other smaller islands other than the main island, such as Stewart, Auckland and the Campbell Islands. [6]The Enderby Island is the most populated island for the yellow-eyed penguins to be found. [3] The yellow-eyed penguin prefers to live in nests in forests, they use shrubs or dense flax to make their nests. The yellow-eyed penguin is the least social and the most timid. The yellow-eyed penguin isolates themselves so that they avoid contact from both humans and other yellow-eyed penguin peers. They also stay in one place for most of the time, except when they are off hunting. [3] [10] The yellow-eyed penguin often expresses their discomfort or hostility by leaning forward toward their opponent. They also often hunch their shoulders and scowl, gape and make disturbing harsh sounds or noises. They might also attack their opponent by pecking them, but actual contact with the opponent is hardly ever made. The yellow-eyed penguin might move to another nesting site, but they tend to move nearby their previous nesting site, so that means that it is very common of them to stay behind the same beach. They don't move nesting sites frequently, but they can move after they lived in the nest for about a year. [3]


One of the most endangered species is the yellow-eyed penguin,[11] because the Europeans are taking over their habitat. The place they want to live in, is a place where there isn’t a lot of people. They are fearful of a lot of things, so they have to have their neighbors beside them, so they can't be too far away from the other yellow-eyed penguin. They also need to make their nests out of logs, trees, or dams. All these conditions has to be satisfied in order for them to survive, but the Europeans keep invading their land and chasing them out of their habitat. Since this is happening, the yellow-eyed penguins have no place to go. This problem is the main reason why they are endangered. [9]

Another reason why they are an endangered species is because new predators keep on going into their habitat and they attack the yellow-eyed penguin. The predators are animals such as dogs, cats, pigs, mice, and ermines.[9]


Interesting facts about the yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes).


  1. 1.0 1.1 Megadyptes antipodes Wikispecies. Web. Last modified on May 13, 2014. Author Unknown.
  2. Houston Dave. Yellow-eyed Penguins Web. Date accessed on January 27, 2015 .
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 About Yellow-eyed Penguin photovolcanica. Web. Date accessed on January 11, 2015 Author Unknown.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Yellow-eyed Penguin bioexpedition. Web. Date accessed on January 14, 2015 Author Unknown.
  5. Yellow-eyed Penguins antarcticconnection. Web. Date accessed on January 27, 2015 .
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Yellow-eyed Penguin Web. Date accessed on January 11, 2015 Author Unknown.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Yellow-eyed Penguin (Korean) terms.naver. Web. Date accessed on January 14, 2015 Author Unknown.
  8. Wardell, William. ADW animaldiversity. Web. Last Updated on November 8, 2013.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Yellow-eyed Penguin anajikr. Web. Last Updated August 23, 2006 Author Unknown.
  10. Murray, Sue. International Penguin Conservation Work Group Web. Date accessed on January 11, 2015
  11. Yellow-eyed penguin videos, photos and facts arkive. Web. Date accessed on January 27, 2015 Author Unknown.