|Did You Know?
The Macaroni penguin belongs to a group of penguins commonly known as crested penguins. All species of crested penguins have heads adorned with yellow feathers. The name Macaroni describes their yellow crest feathers which resemble an eighteenth century hat fashion worn by young Englishmen. Macaronis are the largest crested penguin. They breed closer to Antarctica than any other crested penguin, and even have one breeding colony on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Common: Macaroni penguin, crested penguin.
Scientific: Eudyptes chrysolophus, which translates as “good diver / golden crest”. Subspecies: None, though some literature describes the Royal penguin, Eudyptes schlegeli, as a subspecies.
Marine; spend 75% of their time at sea. Breed on steep, rocky sub-Antarctic islands close to the Antarctic Convergence in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, with one breeding colony located on the Atlantic Peninsula.
Euphausiid crustaceans (krill), squid, and small fish.
Marine; spend 75% of their time at sea. Breed on steep, rocky sub-Antarctic islands close to the Antarctic Convergence in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, with one breeding colony located on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Breeding colonies are very large and dense, and can number into the hundreds of thousands. Nests consist of a shallow scrape in the ground lined with pebbles, sticks, or feathers. Two eggs are laid with a marked size difference between them. Both parents incubate eggs for 33 – 37 days. The smaller, first egg rarely survives, and is usually discarded before hatching. The parents guard chicks for about 25 days. Chicks then form large groups called crèches for protection against predators. Parents continue to care for the chick until they are about 60 – 70 days old.
Sharks, fur and leopard seals prey on adults; skuas, giant petrels, and gulls prey on eggs and chicks.
Conservation Challenges and Solutions:
The Macaroni penguin is considered vulnerable by the IUCN – The World Conservation Union designation. Threats include: activities of commercial fishing, oceanographic changes due to rising sea temperatures, and plastics and oil pollution.
Population/IUCN- The World Conservation Union designation:
Vulnerable populations estimated at 18,000,000 birds
North American Zoos & Aquariums:
Captive population in North America = 142