Family Penguins (Spheniscidae)

Least Concern

Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor)


French: Manchot pygmée German: Zwergpinguin Spanish: Pingüino enano
Other common names: White-flippered Penguin (albosignata)

Aptenodytes minor

J. R. Forster

, 1781,

Dusky Sound, South Island, New Zealand


Race albosignata often considered a distinct species. Validity of races questioned, and current evidence points to a N–S cline; two apparent clades identified, one in Australia and S New Zealand, and the other in rest of New Zealand#R; albosignata would fit in as just another part of the second clade, so perhaps premature to divide into more than one species. Race variabilis often included in iredalei. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. m. novaehollandiae (Stephens, 1826) – S Australia and Tasmania.
  • E. m. iredalei Mathews, 1911 – N North I, New Zealand.
  • E. m. variabilis Kinsky & Falla, 1976 – S North I, Cook Strait.
  • E. m. albosignata Finsch, 1874 – E South I, New Zealand.
  • E. m. minor (J. R. Forster, 1781) – W & S South I, Stewart I.
  • E. m. chathamensis Kinsky & Falla, 1976 – Chatham Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    40–45 cm; c. 0·5–2·1 kg. By far the smallest penguin, blue-grey above, and very short-tailed. Nominate race has most of head and entire... read more


    Very noisy at colony, especially at night. Utters variety of protracted trills, braying sounds,... read more


    Temperate marine waters. Typically nests on sandy or rocky islands, often at base of cliffs or in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly pelagic shoaling fish, such as Australian anchovy (Engraulis australis), Australian pilchard (Sardinops neopilchardus... read more


    Egg-laying mostly in Jul–Dec, with peak Aug–Nov, but recorded in all months, timing apparently varying with locality and year;... read more


    Sedentary. Adults, in particular, stray little from breeding colonies when nesting, and after... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common. Global population very difficult to estimate; perhaps 1,000,000 individuals in 1980s. Believed to be declining.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Martínez, I., Christie, D.A., Jutglar, F. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 September 2019).