Jonathan Jones: The Fairy Penguin

Thursday, May 31, 2018

In Sydney Harbour a number of fairy or little penguin (Eudyptula minor) colonies are still holding on. They are the smallest penguin species in the world, reaching about 30cm in height. Several protected fairy penguin rockeries are dotted around the harbour.

One key site is at Manly, where an estimated 60 breeding pairs nest. Breeding fairy penguins come on shore every night between July and February to raise their chicks in a ground burrow. While on land they are under enormous threat, not only with the destruction of their sites but with predation by foxes, cats, dogs and rats.

In Manly a group of dedicated locals known as the Volunteer Penguin Warden Scheme have come together to help protect the fairy penguins and to educate people. Remember: if you see a fairy penguin, keep dogs away from them and their nests, don’t get too close and don’t use flash photography.

We can all help by finding out what birds are in our local areas and what we can do as a community to help them.


Each week Jonathan Jones shares stories of native Australian birds, touching on their importance, the issues they face and what we can learn from them. Jones' upcoming artwork for the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art requires thousands of native Australian bird feathers, which he needs your help to find.

Image: Little Penguins. Image via BirdLife Australia .