How to Grow a Penguin Colony

Welcome to Katiki Heights, the newest subdivision of lifestyle blocks at Katiki Point Reserve…for penguins. Rosalie has been working hard to make a part of the reserve a little more penguin friendly. Paths through the bush have been extended into this new breeding area. A path through the tall grass (provided by a spraying Round-Up) will give easy access around the subdivision because yellow-eyed penguins can’t negotiate tall grass. Penguins are creatures of habit, so eventually the dead grass will become a dirt path and the herbicide will no longer be necessary.

dead grass = future penguin paths.
dead grass = future penguin paths.

Wayne and Rosalie also built some new nest boxes (closed on three sides because that is what yellow-eyed penguins prefer) and placed them out of eyesight from one another but within earshot so they can yell to each other and be heard. Yellow-eyed penguins have a stronger sense of privacy than other penguin species but they like to be able to at least hear each other.

We went for a walk around the new subdivision, and once again, penguin poo tells the tale: the yellow-eyed penguins are moving in. This area will accommodate the younger breeding penguins next year, and we are hoping for a banner year.

Penguin poo is the best evidence that the penguins are moving in.
Penguin poo is the best evidence that the penguins are moving in.

2 thoughts on “How to Grow a Penguin Colony

  1. What is it about katiki and North Otago that makes it so suitable for the little blue penguins? Is it only the sea, because that doesn’t vary a great deal right along the coastline? Or does it have more to do with the vegetation and soil structures so they can burrow?

    1. Little blue penguins are found in many places and are not as endangered as yellow-eyed penguins. Little blue penguins breed on the coasts of Australia, Tasmania, the Chatham Islands and New Zealand and most of the research on little blue penguins has been done in Australia. I think they especially like Katiki Point because the rabbits make burrows and they use them for themselves and get the shelter without making the effort of digging out their own burrow. Titi (mutton birds) also use old rabbit burrows for shelter there. The dirt is pretty easy to dig through and that could also be a factor. But it is also important that Rosalie traps predators on the land so they don’t have to worry too much about feral cats, stoats and ferrets. This makes the point especially penguin friendly.

      Yellow-eyed penguins are only found on the coasts of the South Island and in the subAntarctic Islands and are considered to be endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources). We are much more worried about their survival, because there are so few of them.

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