Date: 13 January 2009
It would appear that one of Eastern Bay’s favourite little birds, the little blue penguin, have been also been seen enjoying our beaches, especially over the last week.
“They come ashore for numerous reasons” says Community Relations Ranger, Mike Jones. “At dusk they come ashore to rest and recuperate after a day out trying to catch their supper. Please don’t try and ‘rescue’ them – they are perfectly healthy and don’t try what one worried member of the public did recently which was to try and push the bird back out to sea!
“However, if you do see a little blue penguin along the beach during the day it could possibly be injured. If it does have obvious injuries, the best thing to do is to either call our local bird rescuer, Rosemary Tully, on +64 7 312 9475 with details or contact your local DOC office. And as always, please keep your dog restrained and away from these vulnerable birds” said Mr Jones.
High juvenile mortality is unfortunate but natural for little blue penguins, particularly at this time of year. From late December to March chicks are leaving the nest for the first time. Many are unable to fend for themselves and simply die of exhaustion or starvation. It’s recommended that if you find a dead penguin, that you leave it on the beach.
Secondly adults go through a moult stage for approximately four weeks; where they remain in their nests. They do not feed because their new feathers become water logged when wet. If they have not built up sufficient fat reserves for the fast they may die. If you see a moulting penguin it’s recommended that you leave it alone; do not put it in the water. If it is being attacked by a dog or another predator please call your local DOC office.
The korora, little blue penguin, is the world’s smallest penguin and is found in both New Zealand and Southern Australia. Its main breeding sites are in the Hauraki Gulf and Northland but this protected native species can be found right around the shores of the Bay of Plenty.
Studies in the South Island have shown that typically only 30% of chicks survive to adulthood. During a difficult season, when little food is available, the mortality rate can be even higher. Some are found washed up on beaches, but the majority disappear.
Little blue penguin is the common name for Little penguin
Injured little blue penguins: Rosemary Tully +64 7 312 9475
Dog or other predator attack on penguin: Your local DOC office