Better know a penguin: the little/blue/fairy penguin (Eudyptula minor)
Eudyptula minor is a teeny tiny penguin that lives in New Zealand and Australia. It’s barely a foot tall and weighs like three pounds on a good day. They’re so tiny that if they get oil-slicked, they need to wear sweaters until their feathers can be cleaned, because they can’t maintain their body temperature just sitting there. I mean, it’s pretty much a penguin universal that you can’t maintain body temperature in the water with a jacked-up coat, but fairy penguins can’t even just stand there if they’ve got a jacked-up coat.
In addition to being tiny, these penguins are also a gray-blue color instead of black, prefer shallow dives and near-surface feeding, and do not fear the hand of man. They brood multiple chicks and have been known to produce multiple clutches in one breeding season.
They burrow when they’re ready to nest, and they’re apparently not terribly picky about construction to the point that they’ll nest in house cellars or just root right under house foundations. This would be slightly more remarkable if it weren’t how like, every animal in Australia rolls, where you can build a town there if you want to, but they were there first, so you’re going to wind up with a kangaroo in your living room the second it’s more convenient for the kangaroo.
The adult birds are subject to normal predation by seals, and both brooding birds and their eggs are vulnerable to invasive foxes and cats. In a few more imperiled rookeries, the colonies have benefited from the assignment of sheepdogs to protect them, because Australia.
They go out to sea and come ashore in packs, which is a common anti-seal defense exhibited by penguins. They have yet to be observed practicing another common anti-seal defense that Antarctic penguins have developed, which is to shove a random penguin off the ice to see if it gets eaten by a seal. Presumably this is because they’ve got beaches instead of sheer drops, and not out of any inherent moral superiority.
A subspecies of the little penguin, the white-flippered penguin (Eudyptula minor albosignata), is remarkable for being nocturnal, limited to a mere handful of breeding areas, and the epicenter of a prolonged cladistic slap-fight over whether or not they’re real.
Or rather, that the designation is real. I mean, clearly, yes, the penguins themselves do exist. The question is whether or not they’re a proper subspecies as opposed to just possessed of slightly odd plumage.
Above: White-flippered penguins were extremely creatively-named.