The smallest penguin species in the world, the Fairy, or Little penguin ( Eudyptula minor) is also the only species to breed on the Australian mainland. They can be found all along the southern edge of the continent, around Tasmania, and up the east coast as far north as Sydney. In fact, the harbour has been cleaned up so successfully in the last few decades that a breeding colony of penguins has established itself several kilometers inside the harbour, on the beaches of some extremely affluent North Shore suburbs.
They're still fairly large birds, standing about a foot high with a fairly robust, bullet shaped body typical of all penguins. The throat and belly are white, the back, head, tail and paddle-like wings a shiny blue-black. The eyes are pale and silvery, beak black and feet pale pink with black soles. They're quite loud, yapping noisily while travelling. On land, pairs engage in long duets of hoarse braying calls.
They nest in long burrows in sand dunes, with breeding times varying throughout the range. Chicks are covered in grey down which moults to adult plumage by about eight weeks. While the chicks are in the nest the parents take turns fishing and guarding the nest. Because the fishing expeditions can go a long way out to sea, each of these shifts can last over a week. The birds catch small fish, shrimp and so forth, and are extremely fast moving and agile in the water.