After spending much of the year alone in the open ocean, males arrive at the chosen breeding site ahead of the females during late June or July. Two weeks later the females arrive and mating takes place. The birds are monogamous and prefer their nest sites to be hidden from one another. Two pale-green eggs are laid in a cavity between tree roots, stones or small burrows in the coastal forest, and incubation takes from four to six weeks. The birds do not attempt to collect nest materials. Although it is usual for just one egg to hatch successfully, occasionally both chicks emerge. However, the parents rarely catch enough food for two offspring and the smaller chick usually dies (3). While the chick is still defenceless, one parent (usually the male), will guard it whilst the other finds food. Fiordland crested penguins feed inshore and catch crustaceans, squid and small fish which they regurgitate for the chick. Once the young is large enough to be safe from most native predators, both parents take on the role of fishing to provide their offspring with food. Chicks often wander about the nest site or gather in loose-knit crèches. After about 10 or 11 weeks, the chick moults and leaves the nest site, finally adopting the solitary pelagic lifestyle of the adult birds. It will return to breed at the age of five years (2) (3).
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