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little penguin ros batcheler

Little Penguin (Korora)

07/07/2015 | Programmes | Fauna | 0

A two-stage study of the little penguin was carried out on Matiu/Somes Island from 2007 to 2014:

  • During the five-season Stage One study (2007-2011) volunteers built up the colony and collected data with the aim of establishing if a flipper band caused drag while foraging and thus affected a bird’s ability to obtain enough food for their chicks. A preliminary analyses of the data indicates the band does not affect the ability of the little penguins on Matiu/Somes to forage. The results of the study were reported to the Oamaru 2104 Penguin Conference.
  • A three-season Stage Two study conducted for 2012 to 2014 looked at nesting characteristics, such as the health of the colony and breeding success. The data collected has been collated into a summary which shows the colony is healthy and growing, unlike many other areas in New Zealand.
  • Two other investigations conducted in conjunction with the Stage Two study:
  1. Birds fitted with a data logger for a PhD research student developing a foraging and ranging model provided preliminary feedback showing the birds track and feed in both the harbour and Cook Strait.
  2. DNA analysis of feathers removed from 34 adult birds confirmed that ALL of them exhibited the characteristics of a pure New Zealand clade. That is the colony is NOT linked in any way to the equivalent Australian clade.
  • A major contributor to the high success rate identified in the Stage Two is the introduction of nest boxes which were either replaced natural nests or were added as new nesting sites. Visiting students and volunteers provided much of the people-power to build boxes from pre-cut timber.
Next boxes for the little penguins

Image provided by Graeme Taylor

We will keep you informed on the build-up of the colony via regular progress reports on discoveries during the monitoring activities.


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