The Plight of the Yellow-eyed Penguins in New Zealand

The Plight of the Yellow-eyed Penguins in New Zealand

Mar 16, 2015|BirdingWhere we travel| by administrator

When most people think of penguins, they think of the cute, little birds in tuxedos that frolic in the lands of Antarctica. While this is an accurate description for a large majority of penguins, there is a group that sometimes get overlooked.

The Yellow-eyed Penguin is one of the rarest penguins in the world and is unique to the country of New Zealand. These slate grey-blue birds are characterized by yellow feathers on their heads, yellow eye bands, and yellow eyes. Yellow-eyed Penguins choose to nest away from icebergs and snow. Rather, they prefer the privacy of secluded nest sites within New Zealand’s coastal forests. They are also very shy, which is an uncommon characteristic of most penguins. These birds mostly feed on fish and squid from the ocean, but during breeding season they stay very close to their young.

Unfortunately, the Yellow-eyed Penguin is endangered. In the late 1980s, the forest areas where they had formed their nests were cleared for pasture. Their nests were trampled and  animals like ferrets and cats preyed on their chicks. The population began falling rapidly. So, in 1987 the Yellow-eyed penguin Trust was formed to make this problem known to others and to encourage people to start thinking about a conservation program for these animals.

Penguin Place is a private conservation reserve that is entirely dedicated to helping these yellow-eyed birds. This project is completely funded by guided tours of the area. The money collected from the tours is used for conservation efforts such as habitat restoration, predator control a research program, and on-site rehabilitation for penguins that need extra help and care.

Holbrook has a way to help you help these penguins in need. We have New Zealand Garden Tour expedition planned for November 1-16, 2015 with the University of Washington Botanic Garden, and one of the main highlights of this trip is a tour of Penguin Place.

So, by signing up for this trip you will not only be getting the opportunity to experience the wonders and beauty of New Zealand, but you will also be contributing to the conservation effort of the Yellow-eyed Penguin.