Yellow-eyed Penguins on Stamps

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The Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) or Hoiho is a penguin native to New Zealand. Previously thought closely related to the Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor), molecular research has shown it more closely related to penguins of the genus Eudyptes. Like most other penguins, it is mainly piscivorous.

The species breeds around the South Island of New Zealand, as well as Stewart, Auckland and Campbell Islands. Colonies on the Otago Peninsula are a popular tourist venue, where visitors may closely observe penguins from hides, trenches or tunnels.

The Yellow-eyed Penguin is the sole extant species in the genus Megadyptes. (A smaller, recently extinct species M. waitaha was discovered in 2008). It was described by Jacques Bernard Hombron and Honoré Jacquinot in 1841. The Maori name is Hoiho.

This is a fairly large penguin, measuring 65–79 cm long. Weights vary through the year being greatest, 7 to 8 kg, just before moulting and least, 5 to 6 kg, after moulting. The males are larger than the females.[3] It has a pale yellow head and paler yellow iris with black feather shafts. The chin and throat are brownish-black. There is a band of bright yellow running from its eyes around the back of the head. The juvenile has a grayer head with no band and their eyes have a gray iris.

The Yellow-eyed Penguin may be long lived, with some individuals reaching 20 years of age. Males are generally longer lived than females, leading to a sex ratio of 2:1 around the age of 10–12 years.

This penguin usually nests in forest or scrub, among Native Flax (Phormium tenax) and lupin (Lupinus arboreus), on slopes or gullies, or the shore itself, facing the sea. These areas are generally sited in small bays or on headland areas of larger bays. It is found in New Zealand, on the south-east coast of South Island, Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island/Rakiura, and Auckland and Campbell Islands. It expanded its range from the subantarctic islands to the main islands of New Zealand after the extinction of the Waitaha Penguin several hundred years ago.

This species of penguin is endangered, with an estimated population of 4000. It is considered one of the world's rarest penguin species. The main threats include habitat degradation and introduced predators. It may be the most ancient of all living penguins. In August 2010 the yellow-eyed penguin was granted protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

(Source of text: Wikipedia)

 

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