Protecting Penguins: The Elusive Tawaki
Fiordland crested penguins, or Tawaki are about to arrive on New Zealand’s West Coast beaches, locate their nests, woo their mates and prepare to breed. Weird, but they lay two eggs, one big and one small, however usually only the second larger egg and chick will succeed. If it’s not predated. And if the parents manage to forage enough fish food for the chick and aren’t bothered by tourists or dogs when getting that food to their chick. In previous seasons stoats and dogs have devastated breeding Tawaki colonies, but extensive trapping does help.
These penguins are particularly elusive owing to their propensity for nesting in lush Southern westcoast rainforests; in caves, under overhangs, at the base of trees or in dense vegetation. The breeding season extends from July to December with the males left to incubate the egg, and once hatched both parents feed the rapidly growing chick, which approaches adult size within just two months.
Careful management of tourists is necessary to prevent interference by enthusiastic tourists with the timid Tawaki, who must travel across beaches daily to forage for food and return to their nest. By donating to Birdlife’s Penguin Campaign, you can help with pest control, and improved advocacy for Tawaki to help keep them as one of New Zealand’s mainland island species.