Macaroni Penguin – Eudyptes chrysolophus
Eudyptes Genus – Crested penguins
Height: 24-27 in.
Weight: 8-14.0 lb.
Life expectancy in the wild: 12 years.
Approximated Population: 12.6 Million
Population tendency: Decreasing
IUCN Conservation status: VU
Macaroni penguins have a plume easy to identify when compared with other crested penguins. They have a yellow-orange crest on its head that start between their eyes and extend through their head in a V-shaped form. They have bright red eyes, and their beak is thick and orange, but on each side a fleshy pink area is visible. Their large paws are light pink.
Macaroni penguin hatchlings have a gray and white plumage, and they lack the distinctive crest that adults have.
Where do they live?
Their habitat is usually mountains and snow-covered rocky areas with little vegetation or soil. When inhabiting warmer areas, dirt, mud or vegetation may cover the surface of the land where they live. Therefore, they can walk and jump over large slippery rocks that rise in the costs without a problem.
Their largest colonies locate on islands such as South Georgia, Kerguelen, Heard, McDonald, Crozet and Marion Islands.
Skills and Behavior
It is a migratory, aggressive and territorial penguin; males often become involved in fights with other individuals in the colony.
In some colonies, they stay near the coast, diving to a depth of 66 feet and stay submerged for two or three minutes to get food. They are proficient swimmers using their long tail as a rudder, and they have excellent underwater vision.
Besides the vocalizations, Macaroni species communicate with body movements used according to the situation. Grooming and care for their plumage, like all penguins, is essential at the moment of interaction to engage in social relations.
Molting occurs once a year and two weeks before it starts, they feed plenty to have enough nutrients during the three or four weeks of the process. After that, they can return to feed in the ocean and start their breeding season.
What do they eat?
Krill is the highest percentage of their food while squid and fish supplement their diet. The individuals of some colonies stay in shallow waters, but others travel long distances to feed on fish and Parathemisto gauchidaudii, a crustacean of the Indian Ocean.
Sexual Maturity: 5 years females, 6 years males.
Incubation period: 33 to 37 days.
Normal clutch: Two eggs.
During late October, adults arrive at the nesting colonies. Some of them pair with the same partner for previous years, but in some cases “divorces” exist.
Usually, the second egg is the only one that gets developed.
They prefer steep terrain to place their nests. Some exploit the spaces between rocks or areas with tussock grass. Usually, the second egg is the only one that gets developed.
Parents split turns for taking care of the eggs into three shifts. The first lasts for eight to twelve days and both parents are present. The second turn took by the female lasts for 12 to 14 days and the third which lasts nine to eleven days is the responsibility of the father.
Once born, youngs group into “nurseries” for mutual protection. At 60 to 70 days of age, they will have their new feathers so they can start their independent life.
Their major predators for adults are the Antarctic leopard seals and the Killer whales, while skuas, Antarctic pigeons, kelp gulls and giant petrels are responsible for attacking eggs and chicks.
The threats they face are commercial fishing, ocean warming and introduced animals such as rats and cats.
Macaroni penguin range map
Salomon, David. Penguin-pedia, photographs and facts from one man’s search for the penguins pf the world. Brown Books. 2011.
Garcia Borboroglu, Pablo. Penguins: Natural History and Conservation. University of Washington Press, 2015.
BioExpedition Publishing © 2017.