Adelie
African
Blue
Chinstrap
Emperor
Erect Crested
Fiordland
Galapagos
Gentoo
Humboldt
King
Macaroni
Magellanic
Rockhopper
Royal
Snares Crested
Yellow-Eyed

Description

Magellanic Penguins are medium-sized penguins which grow to be 61–76 cm (24–30 in) tall and weigh between 2.7 kg and 6.5 kg (5.9-14.3 lbs). The males are larger than the females, and the weight of both drops while the parents nurture their young. Adults have black backs and white abdomens. There are two black bands between the head and the breast, with the lower band shaped in an inverted horseshoe. The head is black with a broad white border that runs from behind the eye, around the black ear-coverts and chin, and joins at the throat. Chicks and younger penguins have grey-blue backs, with a more faded grey-blue color on their chest. Magellanic Penguins can live up to 25 years in the wild, but as much as 30 years in captivity. Young birds usually have a blotched pattern on their feet, which fades as they age. By the time these birds reach about ten years of age, their feet usually become all black. Like other species of penguins, the Magellanic Penguin has very rigid wings used to "fly" or cruise under water.

Habitat

The Magellanic Penguin, Spheniscus magellanicus, is a South American penguin, breeding in coastal Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands, with some migrating to Brazil where they are occasionally seen as far north as Rio de Janeiro. They are native to the Strait of Magellan in the cool climate of southern Chile, hence the name's origin.

Breeding

Magellanic Penguins travel in large flocks when hunting for food. In the breeding season, these birds gather in large nesting colonies at the coasts of Argentina, southern Chile, and the Falkland Islands, which have a density of 20 nests per 100 square meters. One of the largest of these colonies is located at Punta Tombo. Nests are built under bushes or in burrows. Two eggs are laid. Incubation lasts 39–42 days, a task which the parents share in 10-15 day shifts. The chicks are cared for by both parents for 29 days and are fed every two to three days. Normally, both are raised through adulthood, though occasionally only one chick is raised. Magellanic Penguins mate with the same partner year after year. The male reclaims his burrow from the previous year and waits to reconnect with his female partner. The females are able to recognize their mates through their call alone.

Diet

Magellanic Penguins feed in the water, preying on cuttlefish, sardines, squid, krill, and other crustaceans, and ingest sea water with their prey. Their salt-excreting gland rids the salt from their bodies.

Threats

Millions of these penguins still live on the coasts of Argentina and Chile, but the species is classified as a "threatened species", primarily due to the vulnerability of large breeding colonies to oil spills, which kill 20,000 adults and 22,000 juveniles every year off the coast of Argentina. The decline of fish populations is also responsible, as well as predators such as sea lions and giant petrels, which prey on the chicks.