Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Harlequin Group of Penguins/Images of the Day

The Magellanic Penguin

Height: 28 inches
Weight: 6 - 11 lbs
Range: Argentina, Southern Chile, and the Falkland Islands
Breeding Season: Sept. to March
Nesting: 2 eggs incubated by both parents, 39 - 43 days.
Fledgling stage: 3 months

The Magellanic penguin stands a little over 2 feet tall and weighs about 10 lbs. Like all of the Tropical group, it has a raucous, braying call; a black back, and white underside, with distinctive rings around the face and chest. The Magellanic penguin has 2 black bands between the chin and the chest. They are rather shy and, if approached too closely, will run in to the water or retreat down their burrows. The Magellanic penguin is named after the Straits of Magellan which lies within their range. They are not directly named after the explorer Magellan. (Although the "Straits" are named for him.)

The Magellanic penguin is migratory and spends April through August at sea, following the ocean currents; and Sept through March at their breeding grounds along the coastlines of Argentina, southern Chile, and the Falkland Islands. They nest close to the sea; in burrows that they dig, or in hollows under bushes. The tunnels in the burrows may be over 5 feet long, especially in soft earth. The nesting chamber is big enough for both adults. The colony habitat varies, from place to place. In Argentina the colonies tend to be huge and densely packed. One famous colony at Punta Tumbo has over 1 million birds. In southern Chile, the colonies are smaller and more scattered. Isolated groups of 4 or 5 nesting pairs are not uncommon. In the Falkland Islands, Magellanic penguins are found nesting in the same area as Rockhopper and Gentoo penguins.

The Magellanic chicks are born blind and helpless. Their eyes usually open within a week. They do not form creches; instead they stay in or near the nest, until fully fledged. The juvenile Magellanic penguins are smaller that the adults. They are duller in color and lack the facial pattern.

The Blackfooted/African Penguin

Height: 27 inches
Weight: 10 lbs
Range: southern shores of South Africa
Breeding Season: February and September
Nesting: 2 eggs incubated by both parents, 42 days.
Fledgling stage: 90 days

The Blackfooted penguin is similar in appearance to the Magellanic penguin, but it has only one chest band. The Blackfooteed penguin is sometimes called the Jackass penguin (because of its loud braying call), or the South African penguin. They are considered by some to be the most attractive of the warm weather penguins.

The Blackfooted penguins breed twice a year, in February and September. They nest in underground burrows, which gives them some relief from the heat. They also nest between boulders and in other sheltered sites.

The Blackfooted penguin is considered a "threatened" species. There are approximately 100,000 - 200,000 birds. They are very vulnerable to oil spills, because so many oil tankers travel through their waters. Also in the past it was common practice to harvest their eggs. Between 1900 and 1930 half a million eggs were collected EVERY YEAR from one colony alone. It was estimated in 1972 that the total population of Blackfooted penguins was 170,000. This is only 10 % of their former numbers.

The Galapagos Penguin

Height: 21 inches
Weight: 4 - 6 lbs.
Range: The Galapagos Island
Breeding Season: No set breeding season.
Nesting: 2 eggs incubated by both parents, 38 - 42 days.
Fledgling stage: 3 months

The Galapagos penguin is the second smallest of all the penguin species. They are dull colored, and have two black chest bands. The bill is slender and relatively long. They live farther north than any other penguin species. The Galapagos Island is just south of the equator.

The Galapagos penguin is not very gregarious. They are not seen in large groups (or rookeries). They are not migratory and may breed at any time of the year. Depending on how plentiful the food supply is, they may breed twice a year. Since they molt after each nesting period (as all penguins do), that means they may also molt twice a year. The Galapagos penguins nest in depressions in the lava rock. The young have a very distinctive plumage.

The estimated population of Galapagos penguins is 15,000 birds; and officially it is considered an endangered species. However, it's possible that the population numbers have never been larger than this. that the habitat cannot support a larger number. If this is true, they are not really endangered, but still, must be protected to assure their continued survival.

The Humboldt Penguin

Height: 26 inches
Weight: 10 lbs.
Range: Coasts of Peru and Chile and nearby islands.
Breeding Season: Year round.
Nesting: 2 eggs incubated by both parents, 42 days.
Fledgling stage: 90 days

The Humboldt Penguin is also known as the Peruvian Penguin. It has one Black chest band. The Humboldt Penguin is rather timid and is rarely seen in large groups. The juveniles have very distinctive plumage.

The Humboldt Penguin used to be considered "extremely abundant". Now the species is considered endangered. There are approximately 10,000 birds left. The two major reasons for the decline are the competition for food (mostly anchovies) with the Peruvian fishermen and the fact that many of the nesting areas have been destroyed.

On some of the islands west of Peru, millions of sea birds breed every year (mostly cormorants, pelicans, boobies and penguins). Over the years the quano deposits have accumulated until, in some places, they are over 150 feet thick. The quano is easily burrowed into and is essential to the nesting penguins. Unfortunately, quano is one of the richest type of fertilizer, and the nesting islands were stripped down to bare rock in many places, by people harvesting the quano. (Between 1848 and 1875 an estimated 20 million tons of quano was exported.) This made the area unsuitable for nesting penguins, because they had no where to dig their burrows.

Information courtesy of Darlene's Penguin Pages@

Pictures courtesy of Flickr


Zuri said...

Galapagos Penguins also inhabit on Isabela the biggest Island on Galapagos.

The Penguins that live here, are exclusive to the Galapagos Islands where 1,700 to 8,500 individuals breed on 6 main Islands and several other small Islands like bartolome island.

Although the pattern of banding on this Galapagos animal is similar to that on Magellanic Penguins, they are easily distinguished.

Galapagos and Ecuador Gudie

bathmate said...

I liked it.

bathmate said...

I liked it.