Vote hoiho for Bird of the Year
Tuesday 1st November, 2011Wade in and join me, Anton Oliver, Patron of the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust, to vote yellow-eyed penguin (hoiho) for Bird of the Year. http://www.birdoftheyear.org.
Hoiho (yellow-eyed penguins) are the noisy penguins. Their name in Maori means 'noise shouter'; their piercing calls can be heard over the crashing waves. For me there's something really special about being on a beach at dawn and hearing the shout as they bid farewell and head off to sea for the day. As the sun rises they awaken for the days foraging to gather fish for themselves or for their chicks. These trips can see them swim as far as 50 km off shore and then dive as much as 200 times each day to depths of 160m to catch the small fish on the bottom of our ocean floors. No wonder their scientific name also has significance, Megadyptes antipodes, meaning large southern diver.
I feel a real affinity to these endangered birds of ours. They are majestic, standing at 65 cm and weighing in at up to 6 kg. Bit like my old front row of the AB's really, in the bird sense, although they're far more dashing. Their yellow eye and its surrounding stripe and head back gives rise to their name and makes them stand out in uniqueness.
One has to wonder if their shouts are because hoiho is the least social, preferring to nest out of sight of other penguins. They are forest or shrubland nesting birds, preferring to nest in a secluded site with their back against a tree or log. The breeding season begins with courtship in August until the two chicks fledge in March of the following year. The devoted parents share all the nest duties from incubating the eggs to feeding the ever-hungry chicks.
Their 'Charlie Chaplin-like' antics make them look almost human. And us humans have given them a pretty rough time. Their nesting sites were all but destroyed by our ancestors who removed vast areas of coastal forests. Now they can only be found along the southeast coast of the South island, on Stewart Island and in the subantarctic Auckland and Campbell Islands. Their natural predators at sea are a threat, but so are all the nasties we Europeans introduced - dogs, stoats, cats, etc. So, come on all you bird lovers. These guys need our vote. Stand up and shout for our noisy penguins now …
Polls close 25 November. You need a current email address to register your vote. Tell your friends too!