Home > Birds > Penguins
Yellow-Eyed Penguin
Similar Birds:
 Snares Penguin
 Erect-Crested Penguin
 Little Penguin

Yellow-Eyed Penguin

Yellow-Eyed Penguin Range Map (New Zealand)
Yellow-Eyed Penguin Range Map (New Zealand)

Latin Name Megadyptes antipodes
Conservation Status Endangered
Location New Zealand
Colour Grey/White/Yellow
Height 65 - 68 cm (25.6 - 26.8 inches)
Weight 5 - 8 Kgs (11 - 17.6 lbs)
Life Expectancy 22 Yrs

Main Characteristics

Yellow-Eyed Penguins are fairly large penguins being between 65 and 68 cms (25.6 - 26.8 inches) in height and weighing between 5 and 8 kgs (11 - 17.6 lbs).

Their backs are slate grey in colour and they are coloured white on their front. Their head is a pale yellow and they have paler yellow eyes. They have a band of yellow colouration that runs from their eyes around the back of their head. Their feet are flesh coloured and they have a shrill sounding call.

Each year, during February and March, Yellow-Eyed Penguins moult. The moulting lasts for 3 - 4 weeks and unlike other seabirds, they moult their feathers all at once. During the moulting period their plumage is not waterproof nor are they insulated so they cannot go out to sea to feed. They can loose up to 4 kgs (8.8 lbs) in body weight and they are very vulnerable during this period.


Yellow -Eyed Penguins are found on New Zealand's south island and Stewart Island. They can also be found on Campbell Island, Auckland Island and Codfish Island.

They make their nests in forest or scrub and they are the least social of all penguin species. They maintain the largest territory size of any penguin - sometimes 1 nest per hectare.


Yellow-Eyed Penguins mainly feed upon red cod, blue cod, sprat, opal fish, silversides, ahuru and squid.

They can travel up to 15 kms (9.3 miles) from the shore to their feeding grounds and they can dive to depths of 100 m (328 ft).


The breeding season begins in August and during this time nests are constructed from grass and sticks against a solid structure, such as a rock or tree trunk. The solid structure provides shelter from the sun and harsh weather.

Two green eggs are laid from mid September to mid October and within 24 hours they will change to be white in colour. Both parents incubate the eggs and after a period of 38 - 54 days the chicks hatch.

Up until the chicks are 6 weeks old, one parent remains with them at all times while the other one goes to sea to catch fish to feed the chicks.

During February and March the chicks fledge and are known to head northwards. Approximately 50% of Yellow-Eyed Penguins return to the place where they hatched to breed.


The main predators of Yellow-Eyed Penguins include dogs, wild cats, ferrets, stoats. Adult penguins are less vulnerable but eggs and chicks are easy prey for land based predators.


There are no subspecies of the Yellow-Eyed Penguin.

Interesting Facts

Yellow-Eyed Penguins are also known as:

Hoiho appears on the New Zealand $5 note.

Yellow-Eyed Penguins are one of the world's rarest penguins with an estimated population of only 4,000 birds.

Megadyptes antipodes means "big diver from the southern lands" and the Maori name Hoiho means "noise shouter".

Contact         About         Glossary         Site Map         Privacy Policy

CC 2006 - 2014 theanimalfiles.com