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Fiordland Penguin Eudyptes pachyrhynchus

This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it has a small population which is estimated to have undergone a continuing rapid reduction over the last three generations, based on trend data from a few sites and a variety of threats, especially introduced predators, and this negative trend is projected to continue.

Taxonomic source(s)
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 1994. The taxonomy and species of birds of Australia and its territories. Royal Australasian Ornithologists' Union, Melbourne.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Turbott, E. G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

Taxonomic note
Eudyptes pachyrhynchus and E. robustus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) are retained as separate species contra Christidis and Boles (2008) who include robustus as a subspecies of E. pachyrhynchus.

60 cm. Medium-sized, yellow-crested, black-and-white penguin. Dark, bluish-grey upperparts. Darker head. Broad yellow eyebrow-stripe that drops down neck. Most have 3-6 whitish stripes on cheeks. Similar spp. Only crested penguin with white stripes. Snares Island Penguin E. robustus has pink skin at base of bill. Erect-crested Penguin E. sclateri has erect crest. Rockhopper Penguin E. chrysocome has crest that begins with thin eyebrow-stripe.

Distribution and population
Eudyptes pachyrhynchus nests on Stewart Island and several of its offshore islands, Solander Island and on the west to south-west coast of the South Island, New Zealand. The population is estimated at 2,500-3,000 breeding pairs, mostly nesting on predator-free islands, and divided into 12 major, fragmented breeding sites with c.100 nests or more (McLean et al. 1997). Numbers appear to be declining in some populations, principally those on the mainland where predators have the greatest impact. At Open Bay Island, there was a decline of 33% between 1988 and 1995 (Ellis et al. 1998), and at Dusky Sound there were "thousands" of birds in 1900 but only a few hundred in the 1990s (Russ et al. 1992). Non-breeding dispersal patterns at sea are largely unknown.

Population justification
The population has been estimated at c.5,000-6,000 mature individuals (McLean et al. 1997).

Trend justification
Introduced predators, human disturbance and accidental deaths caused by fisheries are all contributing to an on-going decline in this species's population.

It breeds in loose colonies along stretches of coastline in habitats ranging from mature temperate rainforest and dense scrub, to coastal caves and rocky shorelines. Penguins arrive at their breeding sites from mid-June onwards, with most nests established by mid-July. Two eggs are laid, which are incubated by both parents and hatch after 33 days (Warham 1974). Chicks fledge around mid- to late November. The diet is poorly known, but is thought to include fish, squid, octopus and krill (Heather and Robertson 1997).

The endemic Weka Gallirallus australis has been introduced to several islands where it preys on eggs and chicks - causing up to 38% of egg mortality and 20% of chick mortality on Open Bay Island (Ellis et al. 1998). Other predators include dogs (particularly during moulting when adults are confined to the shore for 20-30 days), cats, stoat Mustela erminea and rats (Marchant and Higgins 1990, Heather and Robertson 1997, Ellis et al. 1998). Birds are disturbed by humans at nest-sites, killed on roads, and may be accidentally captured in set-nets. Marine perturbations can cause substantial changes in prey abundance, and a future rise in sea temperatures could have a similar effect. Squid fisheries potentially compete for food (Ellis et al. 1998). A marine farm is planned for the Jackson's Bay area where 10% of the population of this species is found (Anon 2006).

Conservation Actions Underway
The Open Bay Island population has been the focus of several recent studies. The Department of Conservation had planned to monitor all colonies for five years followed by five years rest, but, owing to difficulties censusing the species because pairs within colonies are well dispersed under tree-cover, and because disturbance by surveyors was thought to be increasing predation rate, only a selection of colonies are partially monitored every two years. Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey areas of coastline not surveyed in the 1990s. Quantify the effect of predators on island and mainland sites (Ellis et al. 1998). Eradicate G. australis from Big Solander Island (Taylor 2000). Complete a detailed study on foraging ecology to identify potential competition with commercial fisheries and the effects of climatic variation (Ellis et al. 1998). Establish guidelines to control visitor access to colonies. Obtain legal protection for accessible colony sites (Taylor 2000).

Ellis, S.; Croxall, J. P.; Cooper, J. 1998. Penguin conservation assessment and management plan: report from the workshop held 8-9 September 1996, Cape Town, South Africa. IUCN/SSC, Apple Valley, USA.

Heather, B. D.; Robertson, H. A. 1997. The field guide to the birds of New Zealand. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Marchant, S.; Higgins, P. J. 1990. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds, 1: ratites to ducks. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

McLean, I. G.; Abel, M.; Challies, C. N.; Heppelthwaite, S.; Lyall, J.; Russ, R. B. 1997. The Fiordland Crested Penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus) survey, stage V: mainland coastline, Bruce Bay to Yates Point. Notornis 44: 37-47.

Russ, R. B.; McLean, I. G.; Studholme, B. J. S. 1992. The Fiordland Crested Penguin survey, stage II: Dusky and Breaksea Sounds. Notornis 39: 113-118.

Taylor, G. A. 2000. Action plan for seabird conservation in New Zealand. Department of Conservation, Wellington.

Warham, J. 1974. The Fiordland crested penguin Eudyptes pachyhynchus. Ibis 116: 1-27.

Text account compilers
Allinson, T, Benstead, P., Mahood, S., McClellan, R., Taylor, J.

Taylor, G.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Eudyptes pachyrhynchus. Downloaded from on 19/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 19/04/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Fiordland crested penguin (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Spheniscidae (Penguins)
Species name author Gray, 1845
Population size 5000-6000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,220,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species