QUESTIONS

ANSWERS

what is the scientific name of the penguin family

Speniscidae

what is the scientific name of the little penguin

Eudyptula minor

how many species of penguin are there world wide

17

how many penguin species are known to have visited Australia

7

how many penguin species breed in Tasmania and mainland Australia

1

are little penguins the smallest in the penguin family

yes

how many penguins are there in the St Kilda colony

about 1000 and still predicted to grow (year 2006)

what is the average weight of a female little penguin

1050grams

what is the average weight of a male little penguin

1170grams

do penguins weights vary seasonally

yes

is the female plumage different from males

no

how can you tell females apart from males

females are generally smaller and males have a deeper (top to bottom) beak with a more prominent hook.

are little penguins only found in the southern hemisphere

yes

are little penguins only found in Australia

no, they are also found in New Zealand

is Port Phillip Bay visited by Phillip Island penguins

yes, many feed in the bay in winter

have any Phillip Island penguins been found in St Kilda

yes, several birds

have any St Kilda penguins visited Phillip Island

yes

do they mate for life

sometimes but not usually

do little penguins nest on beaches in Port Phillip Bay

no, they normally prefer to nest on islands where they are safe from land based predators. St Kilda breakwater is similar to an island

when did little penguins start breeding on St Kilda breakwater

the first record was in 1974

how does St Kilda breeding success compare to Phillip Island

a higher proportion of St Kilda fledgelings return to breed

can little penguins fly

no, but they effectively 'fly' through the water

do little penguins have wings like flying birds

no, their wings are known as flippers, they are short and covered in tiny scale like feathers

do they have feathers

yes

how many feathers do they have

about 10,000

why are their feathers different from most flying birds

to provide insulation and to stop water from seeping into their skin

do little penguins preen their feathers like other birds

yes, they have an oil producing preen gland at the base of the back

do they have more feathers than most flying birds

yes,3 to 4 times more than most birds capable of flight

do they have webbed feet

yes

can little penguins swim underwater

yes

how do they propel themselves underwater

with their flippers

what are the feet used for when swimming underwater

as rudders

how long can they stay underwater

dives of up to 45 seconds in duration have been recorded

how deep can they dive

up to 60 metres

what do they eat

fish, squid and krill

what colour are little penguins

blue/grey on the head back and top of flippers and all white on the front

what advantage is the white front

they are less likely to be seen from below by their predators

what water based predators do they have

sharks and seals

what natural land based predators do they have

sea eagle, and silver gulls and ravens have been known to take chicks if in the open during the day. Water rats occasionally take eggs and very young chicks

what introduced land based predators do they have

foxes and dogs

at what time of day do little penguins come ashore

after sundown

at what time of day do they go to sea

before sunrise

do they have to return to land each night

no, little penguins are so buoyant that they can sleep at sea

how much does a little penguin egg weigh at laying

about 55grams

how many do they lay per clutch

sometimes one but more often two

where are eggs laid

generally in underground burrows or under rocks but sometimes under a bush

can little penguins lay several clutches in the same season

yes if sufficient food is available

what colour are the eggs

white

are both eggs the same size

no, the second egg is generally the same width but shorter

how many days does it take till the eggs hatch

33-37 days

are both parents involved in incubating the eggs

yes

do both parents feed the chicks

yes

when do chicks reach adult weight

chicks can be as heavy as their parents at 4-5 weeks old

how heavy are newly hatched chicks

about 40grams (4% of average adult weight)

are the chicks guarded by one of the parents

one or other parent stays with the chicks till they are 2-3 weeks old

how old are the chicks when they first go to sea

8-10 weeks old

do parents feed them once they have fledged

no

when do the fledged chicks return to the colony

when they are of breeding age 1-3 years

where do fledged chicks go

little is known about this but Phillip Island chicks tend to travel west along the Victorian coast

when do little penguins moult

after breeding

how many times a year do they moult

once

how often do most birds moult

twice a year

what preparations do little penguins make for moulting

increase their body weight by around 50%

how long does a penguin take to moult

2-3 weeks

can little penguins go to sea during moult

no

what is the main effect of having to remain on land

weight loss at a rate of 50 grams a day( they may eventually lose half their body weight)

does moult weaken the little penguins

possibly, due to the enforced fasting and physiological demand of producing new feathers, the period immediately after moult, (April-May) mortality is slightly higher than at any other time of the year..

what unnatural threats do the St Kilda penguins face at sea

possible oil spills and entanglement with fishing line, plastic and other litter

do humans compete for food with little penguins

yes, some of the favourite penguin foods are harvested for pet food and bait

are little penguins protected by law

yes, the wildlife act prohibits handling or harassment of Little Penguins and other native species

compiled by Prof. Mike Cullen updated by Earthcare St Kilda Inc.

copyright Earthcare St Kilda Inc.

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