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What are some yellow-eyed penguin facts?

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The yellow-eyed penguin is a rare species of penguin that inhabits the southern island of New Zealand, Steward Island, Campbell Island and the Auckland Islands. It is listed as an endangered species. Adults grow to 24 to 31 inches high and weigh 12 to 18 pounds. They have white undersides, gray back plumage, yellow bands running from their eyes to the backs of their heads and yellow irises.

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The main diet of yellow-eyed penguins is fish. They consume blue cod, red cod, silversides, opal fish, sprat and cephalopods, such as squid. To feed, they swim up to 16 miles offshore and dive to depths of 100 to 400 feet. Breeding season begins in mid-August and lasts until mid-February. Breeding pairs are monogamous and often return to the same nests, which are usually constructed against rocks or trees or in dense vegetation. The female lays two eggs, and both parents take turns incubating them. When the eggs hatch after 39 to 51 days, one parent guards the chicks while the other forages for food. By mid-February, the fledglings are ready to go off on their own.

In 2010, the number of yellow-eyed penguin adults was 4,000 to 4,800. Dangers to yellow-eyed penguins include habitat loss due to human settlements, entanglement in fishing nets, avian malaria, blood parasites and predation by sharks, sea lions, ferrets, ermines, cats and dogs.

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