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Fr: Gorfou huppé
All : Sclaterpinguin
Esp: Pingüino de Sclater
Ital: Eudipte crestato maggiore
Nd: Grote Kuifpinguïn
Sd: Sclaters tofspingvin


Otto Plantema
Trips around the world

Text by Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 1 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334105

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

BirdLife International (BirdLife International)

Animal Diversity Web (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology)

Penguins of the world (Mike Bingham)

PENGUINWORLD (Lloyd Spencer Davis)

PhotoVolcanica - Photography and Information by Dr Richard Roscoe

BioExpedition.com - Penguins

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Erect-crested Penguin
Eudyptes sclateri

Sphenisciforme Order – Spheniscidae Family

The Erect-crested Penguin is one of the largest penguins of genus Eudyptes. Its funny appearance with the yellow erect eyebrows makes this species different on land. However, at sea with wet drooping feathers, it can be easily confused with Fiordland Penguin and Snares Penguin.
It is also called Sclater’s Penguin, after the English zoologist Philip Lutley Sclater (1829-1913).

Length: 63-68 cm
Weight: 5400-6500 g

The adult has blue-black upperparts and white underparts. Flippers are blue-black too, with white trailing edge. The underside is white with black tip.
The head is much darker, usually black. We can see a broad yellow stripe starting above the lore and extending over the eye and forming an erect crest.
The bill is brownish-red and fairly long. There is a pinkish-white edge along the lower mandible and the gape. The eyes are deep red. Legs and webbed feet are pale pink with black claws.

Both sexes are similar, with the male larger than the female.
The juvenile is duller than adults and has shorter crest.
The chick has grey-brown down above and white below.

The Erect-crested Penguin breeds mainly on Bounty and Antipodes Islands, but small numbers are breeding on Auckland and Campbell islands too.
This species occurs in islands to S and SE of New Zealand.

The Erect-crested Penguin is pelagic outside the breeding season, and spends the winter months at sea. They breed on islands with rocky cliffs. This species nests on coastal rocks, cliffs and beaches, on bare areas or with very little vegetation, and usually up to 70-75 metres above the sea-level.

The Erect-crested Penguin gives continual calls, often loud, harsh and low-pitched. During courtship, they give a trumpeting call decreasing in pitch. Growling and barking are heard during fights and nest defence.

The Erect-crested Penguin feeds on krill, crustaceans, squid, cephalopods and fish. The feeding and foraging behaviours are poorly known, but it probably uses the typical pursuit-diving of most Spheniscidae species.
It remains at sea from May to September.

The Erect-crested Penguins are very social birds and use several displays and sounds to communicate. The typical ecstatic display with the bill wide open is common. Other displays such as vertical head swinging side to side, shoulders hunched, quivering, bowing and mutual preening are performed too. All these displays are part of sexual behaviour.

During more aggressive encounters, the crest is raised and the head is lowered while they utter growling and barking. Direct fighting may involve physical contact with locked bills, or biting the rival on the neck while beating it with the flipper. These fights occur between rivals or in nest-site defence.

The Erect-crested Penguin moults in March/April, and this period lasts about 26-30 days. They leave the colony in mid-April and go to the sea until September. The non-breeding birds moult in February/march.
They regularly occur off E New Zealand. They are vagrant to S Australia, Macquarie and Chatham Islands, and are also recorded in Falkland Islands.

They dive and swim very well, and are able to travel long-distances.
On land, they walk and climb strongly.

The Erect-crested Penguin arrives at colony in September, and the laying starts in October.
They breed in large colonies, often with the Southern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome). The male arrives first and returns close to the usual nest-site. The female returns two weeks later. Some displays and fights occur at this period.
The nest is often placed on flat rocky ground, about 70-75 metres above the sea-level. The nest is a shallow depression with a rim made with rocks and mud. The depression is lined with some grass when available. Both sexes take part in nest-building.

The female lays two eggs, with typically larger second egg. Both sexes share the incubation and take turns during 35 days, and only one chick survives.
Three days after hatching, the female leaves the male to guard the nest during the following 3-4 weeks. During this period, she returns every day to feed the chick. At three week old, the juvenile joins a crèche and both parents feed it. The young fledges in January/February, and it leaves the island and goes at sea.  

The Erect-crested Penguin has the usual predators such as skuas and seals. Populations decline probably due to climate changes and marine factors which affect this species by reduction of preys.
All islands are nature reserves, protecting the penguins from human disturbances. However, this species has very restricted range, and is currently classified as Endangered.