Blue penguins, the smallest of their kind, are found all around the coast of New Zealand, and along the shores of southern Australia, where they are known as little penguins. White on their chests and bellies, they have a thick head-to-tail streak along their back in iridescent indigo-blue. Breeding takes place from May to January, and the parents take it in turns to stay with the eggs during the 36-day incubation period. The newly hatched chicks are protected for the first two or three weeks before both parents go out to sea to meet the increasing demand for food, returning full of fish, which they regurgitate into the chick’s mouth. At eight weeks the chicks begin to fledge, but sixty percent die in their first year; the juveniles that do survive usually return to their birthplace. At the end of the breeding season the birds fatten up before coming ashore to moult: over the next three weeks their feathers are not waterproof enough for them to take to the sea and they lose up to half their bodyweight.

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