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Urban Kororā Cam Shares Secret Lives Of World’s Smallest Penguin

Urban Wildlife Trust and NIWA have launched a new Kororā Cam experience, so viewers can learn about the secret lives of the world’s smallest penguin.

Kororā (little blue penguin) are found around New Zealand’s coasts and grow to about 35cm tall.

Two high resolution cameras and an external microphone have been installed in a little blue penguin nest box in Evans Bay, Wellington to give everyone the chance to be a naturalist from the comfort of their own device.

Kororā visit land between June and March to lay their eggs, look after their young and moult. In April and May they spend large amounts of time at sea, feeding for the next breeding season. The Urban Wildlife Trust hopes that by getting up close and personal to the penguins in a safe way, people will learn a little more about the wildlife living around Wellington City.

“We know that Wellingtonians love nature, and we hope that by giving people the chance to really get to know these social birds, everyone will treasure their wild urban neighbours even more,” says Tony Stoddard, of the Urban Wildlife Trust.

“There is a nesting pair living in the nest box, and they really couldn’t be more urban. Living within the NIWA property at Greta Point, just like any hardy local, the pair don’t even bat an eye at the planes taking off and landing.”

NIWA Wellington Regional Manager Alison MacDiarmid says that it is a privilege having penguins nesting on the property, and for many years now NIWA staff have volunteered with Forest and Bird “Places for Penguins” to provide safe habitat for kororā.

“We are delighted to share the joy of providing a safe place for kororā and hope the Kororā Cam will encourage people to observe and learn about these remarkable birds.”

NIWA seabird ecologist Dr David Thompson says kororā are highly social birds and the microphones will provide fascinating insights into their varied vocalisations.

“Kororā are very vocal, especially when nesting during night-time. They make a variety of sounds including short ‘yaps’, harsh ‘grunts’ and longer calls that resemble braying. Both male and female penguins vocalise and perform duets when greeting each other.”

The Kororā live Infrared high-resolution cameras and external microphone have been donated by AXIS Communications and Aotea Security.

The Kororā Cams livestream is now viewable on YouTube (Urban Wildlife Trust WildCams) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLizlM6gpaVHTKPo7spoqlA.

For more information see Urban Wildlife Trust https://www.urbanwildlifetrust.org/korora-cam-project/ or https://niwa.co.nz/

Kororā Facts:

Kororā or Little penguins are the world’s smallest penguin, standing at only 35-43 cm and weighing in at just over 1kg. The penguins hunt at sea, diving for prey generally in waters less than 50 m deep. Little penguins are mainly found within 25 km of the shore during the breeding season but can travel further out to sea when not breeding. Their diet is composed of varying proportions of small shoaling fish, squid and crustacean species.

Little penguins are widely distributed along the coastlines of the North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands and their offshore islands.

Little penguins can often breed as isolated pairs or in colonies. Nests are situated close to the sea in burrows which may be in caves, under logs, rock crevices, or even under houses. They are monogamous within a breeding season and share incubation and chick-rearing duties.

The 1-2 white or lightly mottled brown eggs are laid from July to mid-November, and with a rarer second (or even third) clutches beginning as late as December. Incubation takes up to 36 days. Chicks are brooded for 18-38 days and fledge after 7-8 weeks.

Little penguins are nocturnal on land. They return to nesting areas at dusk, congregating in small groups, or “rafts” offshore. Rafts usually come ashore together and are comprised of the same individuals each night.

Kororā have many challenges; habitat loss, pollution, overfishing, predators such as dogs, cats and mustelids and the increasing warming seas are all putting the little penguin under immense pressure. Penguins are vulnerable especially while they are ashore during moult or nesting periods.

Penguin deaths due to dog attacks are very common but are entirely avoidable with responsible dog ownership. Always adhere to any local signage and keep dogs on a lead, under full control when near penguin habitat. Everyone can play a part in protecting Kororā / Little Penguins

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