Fairy Penguins in Tasmania

Hundreds of thousands of these fascinating creatures live in colonies on the remote islands off the Tasmanian coast. A small percentage of the Fairy Penguin population come ashore on mainland Tasmania.

There are rookeries at bicheno on the east coast, at The Neck on bruny island in the south, and along the north-west coast at devonport, burnie, penguin and stanley.

Hundreds of breeding pairs come ashore after dark and make their way across the sand to burrows that may be among the rocks or in hollow scrapes under tussock grass or in tunnels up to 80 centimetres deep.

Fairy Penguins can be seen year-round but the main breeding season is spring and summer (November to March in Tasmania).

Local Tourist Offices in Tasmania can provide details of supervised tours to observe these sensitive birds under conditions that cause them the least disturbance.

Viewing penguins
Fairy Penguin – up close and personal in Tasmania.
© Tourism Tasmania and John de la Roche

the fairy penguin

The Fairy Penguin is the smallest of all penguins. It is a flightless seabird, weighing about a kilogram when mature and growing to a height of 40 centimetres. It lives for approximately six years.

The little penguins dive to 10 or 20 metres to catch their main diet of small fish which they swallow whole.

They lay their eggs in burrows on the seashore and a breeding pair will share incubation shifts of one or two days at a time over a period of about 35 days. It will be seven or eight weeks before the newly-hatched chicks are mature enough to take to the sea.

Fairy Penguin
Fairy Penguin in Tasmania.
© Tourism Tasmania and Don Fuchs

Fairy Penguins – a protected species in Tasmania

Penguins are protected in Tasmania. It is illegal to try to catch them or to harass them in any way.