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Like a slightly smaller version of the Fiordland penguin, at 65 cm length and roughly 3 kg, they are distinguished by having a fleshy margin at the base of the bill. They differ from Erect-crested penguins in having drooping feather plumes on the crest and a more conical bill, and the yellow facial stripe reaches further up the bill.
Endemic to the Snares Islands, about 100 km south of New Zealand’s Stewart Island. With a breeding range confined to just over 300 ha, the Snares penguin has the most restricted distribution of all penguins. Little is known about how widely it ranges outside of the breeding season.
Snares penguins nest in dense colonies, building cup-shaped nests using peat, wood and pebbles. They breed under the canopy of Olearia forests and on exposed coastal rock. The forest in and around a colony is often killed by penguin guano, creating clearings in the forest.