Penguins 101: Macaroni Penguins for Kids 10 Fun Facts - Animal Facts
Macaroni Penguin Fun Facts for Kids Penguins 101 #penguin
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The macaroni penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus) is a species of penguin found from the Subantarctic to the Antarctic Peninsula. One of six species of crested penguin, it is very closely related to the royal penguin, and some authorities consider the two to be a single species. It bears a distinctive yellow crest, and the face and upperparts are black and sharply delineated from the white underparts. Adults weigh on average 5.5 kg (12 lb) and are 70 cm (28 in) in length. The male and female are similar in appearance, although the male is slightly larger and stronger with a relatively larger bill. Like all penguins, it is flightless, with a streamlined body and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine lifestyle. They also have red eyes.
Its 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. These birds moult once a year, spending about three to four weeks ashore, before returning to the sea. Numbering up to 100,000 individuals, the breeding colonies of the macaroni penguin are among the largest and densest of all penguin species. After spending the summer breeding, penguins disperse into the oceans for six months; a 2009 study found that macaroni penguins from Kerguelen travelled over 10,000 km (6,200 mi) in the central Indian Ocean. With about 18 million individuals, the macaroni penguin is the most numerous penguin species. However, widespread declines in populations have been recorded since the mid-1970s. Their conservation status is classified as vulnerable.
The macaroni penguin is a large, crested penguin, similar in appearance to other members of the genus Eudyptes. An adult bird has an average length of around 70 cm (28 in); the weight varies markedly depending on time of year and sex. Males average from 3.3 kg (7 lb) after incubating, or 3.7 kg (8 lb) after moult to 6.4 kg (14 lb) before moult, while females average 3.2 kg (7 lb) after to 5.7 kg (13 lb) before moult. Among standard measurements, the thick bill (from the gape) measures 7 to 8 cm (2.8 to 3.1 in), the culmen being around a centimetre less. The wing, from the shoulder to the tip, is around 20.4 cm (8.0 in) and the tail is 9–10 cm (3.5–3.9 in) long. The head, chin, throat, and upper parts are black and sharply demarcated against the white under parts. The black plumage has a bluish sheen when new and brownish when old. The most striking feature is the yellow crest that arises from a patch on the centre of the forehead, and extends horizontally backwards to the nape. The flippers are blue-black on the upper surface with a white trailing edge, and mainly white underneath with a black tip and leading edge. The large, bulbous bill is orange-brown. The iris is red and a patch of pinkish bare skin is found from the base of the bill to the eye. The legs and feet are pink. The male and female are similar in appearance, although males tend to be slightly larger. Males also bear relatively larger bills, which average around 6.1 cm (2.4 in) compared to 5.4 cm (2.1 in) in females; this feature has been used to tell the sexes apart.
Immature birds are distinguished by their smaller size, smaller, duller-brown bill, dark grey chin and throat, and absent or underdeveloped head plumes, often just a scattering of yellow feathers. The crest is fully developed in birds aged three to four years, a year or two before breeding age.
Macaroni penguins moult once a year, a process in which they replace all of their old feathers. They spend around two weeks accumulating fat before moulting because they do not feed during the moult, as they cannot enter the water to forage for food without feathers. The process typically takes three to four weeks, which they spend sitting ashore. Once finished, they go back to sea and return to their colonies to mate in the spring. Overall survival rates are poorly known; the successful return of breeding adults at South Georgia Island varied between 49% and 78% over three years, and around 10% of those that did return did not breed the following year.