|Did You Know?
The Humboldt penguin is found only on the western coast of Peru and Chile, in the area of the cold and very rich Humboldt Current ecosystem. Their populations have declined seriously during the past century due to many factors including loss of good nest sites, reduced food supply, predation, and the impact of increasingly severe El Niño fluctuations. Biologists are working toward their conservation.
Common: Humboldt penguin, Pingüino de Humboldt.
Scientific: Spheniscus humboldti.
The western coast of South America (Peru and Chile). Virtually the entire range is associated with the Humboldt current ecosystem, from about 5° to 35° South latitude. Although the air temperature can be warm, the water of the Humboldt current is very cold.
Primarily small schooling fish such as anchoveta; occasionally squid, shrimp-like krill, or other fish species.
Live in colonies with other Humboldt penguins and are often associated with large colonies of other seabird species. Prefer to nest in underground burrows, among rocks and boulders, or in sea caves. Where the accumulated seabird guano is mined and scraped away, the penguins cannot burrow into the hard rocky ground and are forced to nest in the open.
Nest in the open usually in steep, rocky places using pebbles, leaves or twigs to build their nest. Lay two eggs of different sizes and incubates them for 35 days. The first egg rarely survives. Chicks are guarded by the parents until 20 days old. The parents continue to feed the chick until about 2.5 months old.
Natural: fur seals, sea lions, sharks, foxes, gulls (on chicks)
Introduced: dogs, rats, humans
Other: vampire bats that live in rocky caves along the coast may take blood from penguins that are sleeping on shore.
Conservation Challenges and Solutions:
Improve poor quality nest sites through the use of artificial burrows or protecting local guano deposits. Reduce drowning of Humboldt penguins due to entanglement in fishing nets. Reduce illegal hunting by humans. Control introduced predators. Provide protection of key breeding colonies through establishing protected areas or reserves where needed.
Population/IUCN- The World Conservation Union designation:
Vulnerable population estimated at 13,000 birds.
North American Zoos & Aquariums:
Captive population in North America = 301