Macaroni Penguin – Photo: Unknown

Latin name: Eudyptes chrysolophus

Population: about 12 million pairs

Conservation Status: Vulnerable (IUCN, 2009)

Length: 71 cm

Weight: 3.1 to 6.6 kg

Mating/Breeding: Adult Macaroni penguins typically begin to breed late in October, and lay their eggs in early November. The nest itself is a shallow scrape in the ground which may be lined with some pebbles, stones, or grass, or nestled in a clump of tussock grass. A fertile Macaroni penguin will lay two eggs each breeding season. The first egg is smaller than the second one, and is unlikely to survive. The second egg hatches around 34 days after it is laid. Macaroni penguins typically leave their breeding colony by April or May to disperse into the ocean.

Feed on: The diet consists of a variety of crustaceans, mainly krill, as well as small fish and cephalopods; the species consumes more marine life annually than any other species of seabird..

Threats: The Leopard Seal and the Antarctic Fur Seal sometimes hunt adult Macaroni penguins in the water. Colonies suffer low rates of predation if undisturbed; predators generally only take eggs and young that have been left unattended or deserted. Skua species, the Snowy Sheathbill, and Kelp Gull prey on eggs, and skuas and Giant Petrels also sometimes take chicks.

Colour/Looks: They have a golden crest which is joined in a broad band across the forehead, extending back over the reddish-brown eyes and sweeping into splendidly drooping plumes.

Macaroni Penguin Habitat

Where found: Most Macaronis live south of the Polar Front, in sub-Antarctic and warmer Antarctic waters. The occupy colonies along the Scotia Arc and on South Georgia, and a few pairs nest with other species in the South Sandwich Islands.

Interesting Trivia:

The birds are named for their resemblance to London dandies who went in for foppish dress and hairstyles associated with Italian culture.

More info:

Hadoram Shirihai, A complete guide to Antarctic wildlife (2002)

David McGonigal & Lynn Woodworth, Antarctica and the Arctic. The complete encyclopedia (2001)