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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Eudyptes Pachyrhynchus. — (Crested Penguin.)

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Eudyptes Pachyrhynchus.
(Crested Penguin.)

  • Eudyptes pachyrhynchus, Gray, Voy. Ereb. and Terr., Birds, p. 17 (1844).

  • Chrysocoma pachyrhynchus, Bonap. C. R. xliii. p. 775 (1856).

  • Eudyptes pachyrhyncha, Gray, Hand-l. of B. iii. p. 98 (1871).

  • Eudyptes chrysocomus, Buller, Birds of New Zealand, 1st ed. p. 344 (1873).

  • Eudyptes chrysocoma, Sharpe, App. Voy. Ereb. and Terr. p. 35 (1875).

  • Eudyptes pachyrhynchus, Buller, Man. Birds of N. Z. p. 100 (1882).

Native names.—Tawaki and Pokotiwha.

Ad. suprà nigricans, sordidè cyanescente nitens: subtùs albus, pectore laterali dorso concolore: alâ quoque dorso concolore, secundariis angustè albido terminatis: supercilio distincto a naribus ducto et pileum marginante, posticè cristato, dilutè sulphureo: facie laterali gulâque nigricantibus vix brunnescenti-albo variis: rostro rubescenti-brunneo ad basin nigricante: pedibus flavicanti-albidis, subtùs nigricanti-brunneis: iride flavicanti-brunneâ.

Adult. Crown, sides of the head, throat, and hind part of neck black; the rest of the upper surface bluish black, each feather having a narrow central streak of pale blue; from the base of the upper mandible, on each side, a broad line of pale golden yellow passes over the eyes, and is continued beyond in a crest of fine pointed feathers, extending nearly two inches beyond the head; the black feathers of the crown between these side crests are lengthened, acuminate, and slightly rigid; upper surface of flippers glossy bluish black, the feathers, which are lanceolate and closely imbricated, being margined and tipped with pale blue; along the inner edges a narrow band of white. The underparts of the body are silvery white, contrasting sharply on the sides with the dark plumage of the upper surface, and tapering upwards on the fore neck to a point about three inches below the angle of the lower jaw; under surface of flippers bluish grey, with the central portion outwardly, and a continuation towards the root, silvery white; tail-feathers long, narrow, very rigid, and perfectly black; the coverts greyish white, with black shafts, and tipped with blue. Irides brick-red; bill from rich nut-brown to pale orange-brown, darker on the lower mandible, blackish at the base, and horn-coloured at the tip; feet pinkish or yellowish white, with darker webs; claws dark brown, with black points, the soles blackish brown. Total length 27 inches; length of flipper 8·5; tail 4; bill, along the ridge 2·75, along the edge of lower mandible 2·75; tarsus 1·5; middle toe and claw 3·5; hind toe and claw ·75.

Young. Has the crests very inconspicuous, the line over the eye being narrow, and the posterior feathers scarcely produced beyond the head; the crown and nape dull black, and the sides of the hind neck below strongly tinged with brown; the peculiar sharply defined black throat which distinguishes the adult bird is absent, the chin and the sides of the face being mottled with dusky black on a lighter ground, shading away insensibly on the throat; the plumage of the upper parts duller than in the fully matured bird. Bill dark brown.

More advanced state. Crown of the head bluish black, the feathers somewhat lengthened, with polished shafts; from the base of the mandible, in a line with the nostrils, a streak of pale yellow with points of black passes over the eyes, widening backwards and extending to the hind head, where the feathers are lengthened, but scarcely to a degree deserving the name of a crest; the throat and for nearly three inches down the neck sooty black, freckled and mottled with fulvous white; the whole of the upper surface dull bluish black, the centre of each feather having a touch of colour; along the lower edge of flippers a narrow line of white; tail-feathers sooty black; the whole of the underparts pure white. Bill clear reddish brown; feet flesh-white; the claws black.

page 288

Nestling. Head and throat, hind neck and entire upper surface covered with short, thick, woolly down of a sooty brown colour; the rest of the body covered with yellowish-white down, but so thinly that the white skin is visible underneath. From the crop to the abdomen, down the centre, there is a perfectly bare strip; the flippers also are bare. Bill brownish black, changing to dull white at the tip; feet flesh-white.

Obs. A specimen caught in the castaway wreck of a brig near the Wellington heads, in 1856, was brought to me in a moulting condition, and presented a very singular appearance—the plumage peeling off as it were in large patches, and disclosing to view a short undergrowth of new feathers: the whole process was completed in two or three days.

The eyes are not as depicted in my former edition. They are of a dark brick-red, with a very small pupil, which in the strong sunlight becomes reduced to a mere black point, situated above the middle line. The eye has a very peculiar appearance, being more like a flat button than a bird’s eye, and it is large for the size of the Penguin. It reminds one in its general character of a seal’s eye, and on watching the bird in the sunlight it will be seen that the nictitating membrane, which is extremely thin and transparent, is being continually drawn over it, having the appearance, owing to its delicacy, of a mere line crossing the vision, there being no movement whatever of the eyelids. The feet are of a pinky flesh-colour, not dark as in my former Plate, which was drawn from a preserved specimen. The bill is of a uniform rich pale orange-brown, not dark brown as in the old figure. I examined on one occasion six or seven of these birds on board the ‘Hinemoa,’ and all had bills of the same colour. Both sexes are crested, and I can distinguish no difference in the plumage.

This fine Penguin is more or less distributed, in suitable localities, all around our coast-line. In the North Island it is a comparatively rare bird, but it becomes more numerous as we proceed south; and in the West Coast sounds large colonies of them are to be found breeding together among the rocks or in the caverns scooped out of the cliffs by the erosive action of the sea. Reischek found as many as twenty-four pairs associated together in Supper Cove, and nearly as many on Cooper’s Island. In the vicinity of these breeding-places the birds may often be seen swimming in companies, cleaving the water like a school of small porpoises. On the Snares, he “saw thousands of them jumping over the rocks, and fishing in the sea to feed their young ones, which were nearly full-grown.” This was about the last week in January.

On Bounty Island they congregate in large numbers during the breeding-season, sharing the domain with Diomedea melanophrys and other sea-birds having a community of interest. (See woodcut on page 293.)

Major Mair informs me that he saw a perfectly tame one, which had been captured by the natives half a mile up the Opotiki river, in 1868. It is not often that this Penguin wanders so far up the coast, although I have a record of one taken at the mouth of the Waiotahi, five miles further north.

It is occasionally found nesting on the Island of Kapiti, but not in communities.

The eggs, as a rule, are of a very rounded form, measuring 2·9 inches in length by 2·3 in breadth. The largest and most rounded specimen in my son’s collection gives the above measurements; the smallest, which is more ovoido-conical in form, measures 2·75 inches by 2·05; and one of intermediate size 2·9 inches by 2·1. I have seen one, however, of a broadly elliptical form, measuring 2·9 by 1·9, and with its smaller pole much flattened. The colour of the shell when fresh is a pale bluish green, the tint being brighter in some than in others, but this is in a great measure due to the presence in some of a chalky film of yellowish white; after being incubated they become much soiled and stained. In some specimens the surface exhibits minute pimples or chalky excrescences.