Friday, February 06, 2009

Little blue penguin influx along BOP coastline

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 Рthey 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.Source: New Zealand Department of ConservationBlue penguin/koror̢ Southern little blue penguinThe blue penguin is the smallest penguin in the world, standing just 25 cm tall and weighing a little over 1 kg. Its plumage is slate-blue with a bright white belly and it lacks any type of crest. In Canterbury, experts also recognise a separate sub-species, known as the white flippered penguin. It is difficult to distinguish from the blue penguin, but to the discerning eye the white flippered is slightly larger, lighter in colour and has a characteristic broader white band at the front of its flipper.Blue penguins only come ashore under the cover of darkness and live underground in burrows, natural holes, or under human structures and buildings. They remain around their colony all year, although they may make long foraging trips of more than 70 km during the non-breeding period.The population and range of the little blue penguin has been declining in areas not protected from predators. Where predator control is in place, populations have been stable or increasing.

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