Movements of Little Penguins Eudyptula minor banded at Rabbit Island and the Seal Island Group, Wilsons Promontory, Victoria
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|| F. I. Norman, P. Dann, S. Unthank, T. L. Montague
Between 1979 and 2002, 5044 Little Penguins Eudyptula minor
were banded (4796 adults, 248 chicks) at Rabbit
Island, Wilsons Promontory, Victoria. Recoveries of dead banded birds and recaptures away from the island of banded
adult and fl edging birds made up to June 2009 are reviewed: mention is also made of results obtained from banding
smaller numbers of birds (823) on Seal, Rag and Notch Islands in the nearby Seal Island Group between 1991 and 2001.
For birds originally banded at Rabbit Island, most recoveries were made to the west of the banding site, although some
birds were found dead in New South Wales and in northern Tasmania. Recoveries were made in and out of presumed
breeding periods, particularly during winter/early spring and mid-summer for adults, usually within 400 kilometres of
Rabbit Island and less than five years after banding. While causes of death were rarely reported (if known), there was a
substantial increase in recoveries following a die-off of Pilchards Sardinops sagax
in southern Australian waters in 1995.
Recoveries of banded birds from Rabbit Island and the Seal Island Group fit within a pattern shown by banding at other
colonies, namely that those from colonies to the west and south tend to move to the coasts of western Victoria and South
Australia whereas those to the east may move north and south. Such results suggest that Little Penguins disperse away
from breeding colonies to areas of presumed increased productivity and prey availability.
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