Crested penguin, circa 1799, The Naturalist’s Miscellany, 1790-1813.
Though it had long been known that there were large colonies of penguins on Snares Island, ornithologists, as recorded by Oliver, did not distinguish them from the New Zealand species E. pachyrhychus. When Reischek visited the Southern Islands in January, 1888, he found “thousands of penguins on the rocks standing like regiments of soldiers.” He also says that “some disease was amongst them, thousands were lying rotting among the black sand, and the stench was dreadful.”
From their winter sojourn at sea the Snares crested penguin arrives for the purpose of breeding in August and finally departs in April. When coming in from the sea the penguins, as noted by Richdale, sometimes land feet first on the rocks.
Oliver records that Stead relates that, “the penguin colonies were centres of attraction for three kinds of land birds on the Snares, snipe, black tit and fernbird, all of which found in them their most concentrated food supplies. Tits and fernbirds were seen collecting white maggots from the mud. The penguin colonies are in close proximity to the breeding places of sea lions Arctocephalus hookeri which never molest the birds while on land. Nor is this to be wondered at seeing the filth in which the penguins are wading. At sea the penguins are included in the sea lions fare.”
The noise emanating from a colony of Snares Island penguins is thus described by Stead: “the most amazing thing about a penguin colony is the noise. They have a staccato bark that sounds in the distance like someone chopping wood; soft musical whistles that may give way to a series of gutteral quacks reminescent of an old drake in a farmyard; harsh screams of anger or alarm, and a number of grunts that sound in the distance like humans talking.”
Snares crested penguin, from Birds of the World on Postage Stamps
Snares Island penguin.
60 cm., 3 kg., head, throat, upperparts dark blue-black, underparts white, thin bright yellow eyebrow stripe forms bushy droopy crest behind eye, pink skin at base of heavy reddish brown bill, black tip to underflipper.
Shaw, George & Nodder, Fredick Polydor, The Naturalist’s Miscellany, 1790-1813.
Birds of the World on Postage Stamps
Heather, B., & Robertson, H., Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, 2000.
Oliver, W.R.B., New Zealand Birds, 1955.
Friday, 200 October, 2023; ver2023v1