Eudyptes sclaterierect-crested penguin

Geographic Range

Eudyptes sclateri breed on the Antipodes and Bounty Islands with smaller numbers observed to breed on the Auckland and Campbell Islands. While not breeding, E. sclateri inhabit the subantarctic oceans, although the exact location during non-breeding months is unknown (Houston 1998).


During the winter months at sea, E. sclateri remain in the cool marine waters of the subantarctic. Their exact location has never been determined. They normally breed on the rocky Antipodes, Bounty, Campbell, and Auckland Islands in colonies that also include E. chrysocome. The islands are rocky with cliffs that provide for well-protected nests. There is very little vegetation and it normally includes short grasses and shrubs. These islands are located in the subantarctic waters south of New Zealand (Williams 1995; Barham and Barham 1996).

Physical Description

Eudyptes sclateri are approximately 65 cm tall and at the maximum weight, which occurs before molting, weigh about 6.5 kg. The males are generally larger. In the adult, the coloration of the head, upper throat, and cheeks are a very dark black. There is a broad yellow stripe that starts near the face, which rises over the eye to form the erect crest. The body and upper parts, along with the tail, are blue-black while the under parts are white. The dorsal side of the flipper is blue-black with a white edge, while the ventral side is white with a black patch at the tip of the flipper. The beak is long and slim with brown-orange coloring. The chicks have gray-brown upper parts and white under parts. Juveniles have a slight coloration difference from the adults but the main defining feature is the shorter crest (Williams 1995; Barham and Barham 1996).

  • Average mass
    6000 g
    211.45 oz


Eudyptes sclateri pairs breed in large colonies usually with rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome). The males usually return to the vicinity of the previous nesting site two weeks before the females return. The pre-egg stage is marked by lots of activity and fighting. The nest site is usually on flat rocky ground no higher than seventy meters above sea level. The female, who usually forms the nest cup, rotates on her breast and kicks and pushes dirt away from the cup with her feet. The male then usually rings the nest cup with rocks and mud and lines it with a little grass if it is available. Egg laying occurs in early October and lasts three to five days, during which time, the female fasts. The clutch normally contains two eggs with the second egg noticeably larger than the first. The eggs are normally a chalky pale blue or green and later become a light brown. After the second egg is laid, incubation begins and lasts for approximately thirty-five days. Usually, the first egg, which is smaller, is lost (at least ninety-eight percent of the time) and the second, larger egg is the only one to hatch. Males and females take turns incubating eggs. Two to three days after the eggs hatch, the female disappears and leaves the male to guard the nest. The guard stage lasts three to four weeks, during which period the male fasts and the female returns daily to feed the chick regurgitated food. The fledgling period, when the chicks leave the island, normally begins in February, at which point the chick enters adulthood (Richdale 1951; Stonehouse 1975; Muller-Schwarze 1984; Williams 1995).


Eudyptes sclateri are very social birds with many displays and vocalizations. The mating pairs usually recognize each other by sight and vocalizations. Calls are low-pitched phrases given at a steady rate. They are usually harsh and composed of pulsed phrases. Calling occurs during the daytime only. The chicks also cheep and these calls are usually shorter and less complex than adults, as well as being higher pitched. Displays are very extensive including an ecstatic display with an open bill, which is normally used in courtship. Aggressive displays involve the use of the crest while other displays include vertical head swinging, mutual displays and trumpeting, shoulders hunched posture, quivering, bowing, and mutual preening. These displays are normally used in sexual behavior. Fighting displays and sounds include a lowered head with growling or barking, and direct fighting with twisting of locked bills or biting the enemy on the neck while beating with the flipper. The fighting displays are usually seen during mate matching or when defending nesting sites, which can be very competitive (Richdale 1951; Stonehouse 1975; Williams 1995).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Little is known about the feeding habits of E. sclateri but it is believed that the main sources of food are fish and crustaceans (Stonehouse 1975; Davis 1990).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Eudyptes sclateri are of little economic importance. They are not caught for food or used in any other way by humans (Stonehouse 1975).

Conservation Status

Scientists have observed a population decline of at least fifty percent in the last forty-five years. This species has a restricted breeding range, which leads to conservation problems. Additionally, E. sclateri does not appear on the CITES list which indicates the penguin is not being hunted or used in trading by humans.

Other Comments

Another interesting part of the life cycle of E. sclateri is molting. This is quite an extensive social process. Beginning in February following the fledgling of the chicks, the adults go out to sea for four weeks of pre-molt feeding. The mating pairs are separate during this pre-molt feeding and return to the nesting site very obese for an emotional reunion involving many sexual displays. The penguins fast during molting, which lasts approximately twenty-eight days. During this time the mating pairs molt together at their nests. After completion of the molt, normally around mid April, E. sclateri return to the sea for the winter (Stonehouse 1975; Davis et. al. 1990; Williams 1995).


Jenny Burchman (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


Arctic Ocean

the body of water between Europe, Asia, and North America which occurs mostly north of the Arctic circle.


uses sound to communicate


Referring to an animal that lives on or near the bottom of a body of water. Also an aquatic biome consisting of the ocean bottom below the pelagic and coastal zones. Bottom habitats in the very deepest oceans (below 9000 m) are sometimes referred to as the abyssal zone. see also oceanic vent.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oceanic islands

islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


uses sight to communicate


Barham, P. 1996. "Erect-crested Penguin" (On-line). Accessed March 3, 2001 at

Davis, L., J. Darby, B. Stonehouse. 1990. Penguin Biology. San Diego: Academic Press.

Houston, D. 1998. "Erect-crested Penguin" (On-line). Accessed March 3, 2001 at

Muller-Schwarze, D. 1984. The Behavior of Penguins: Adapted to Ice and Tropics. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Richdale, L. 1951. Sexual Behavior in Penguins. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press.

Stonehouse, B. 1975. The Biology of Penguins. Baltimore: University Park Press.

Williams, T. 1995. The Penguins. Oxford: Oxford University Press.