Magellanic Penguins 101 Facts

by Terri Jackson

Life’s really is a beach for the Magellanic Penguin. It is a mid-sized black and white banded penguin that foregoes the frigid temps that we typically associate with , for a toastier climate. It calls the coast of South America and the Falkland Islands home, and is closely related to the Galapagos, African and Humboldt penguins. Hi, welcome to Animal Facts. Today, we discuss our “fair-weather” feathered friend, the Magellanic Penguin. Wait, before we get started, take a moment to subscribe to get more fun fauna facts, and click the bell icon to make sure you don’t miss a single fact.

10. Banded penguins are very similar in appearance, but each species has a specific pattern that distinguishes it from the others. Mature penguins have black posteriors and white anterior with two black bands, one around the neck and another extending across the breast all the way around to the back, like a cape. The head is black, with two white V-shaped bands that border the eyes and loop to meet at the throat. Chicks are born with grey-blue posteriors and lighter shade of gray on their frontal region, and have blotchy pink and black feet that fade as they reach adulthood.

Magellanic Penguin9. Magellanic penguins establish their breeding colonies along the southern coasts of South America and the Falkland Islands. When the breeding season ends, they extend their migration to Peru and Southern Brazil, foraging as far north as Rio De Janeiro. Even penguins know that Rio is the place to party after a hard season of chick rearing!

8. The breeding season of the Magellanic penguin begins in September and lasts until the chicks reach maturity, usually in late February or early March. The female penguins lays two eggs in a nest that is built in a burrow or under a bush in a spot where the temperature is always over than 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The incubation period lasts about 42 days with both parents taking 10 to 15-day shifts.

7. Magellanic penguins are experts at co-parenting. The female incubates and hatches the first egg. The male returns from foraging at sea to take over on the very day the second egg is laid. Egg number two is usually larger and warmer than the first egg, which makes the second egg less likely to survive. After the chicks hatch, their parents care for them for about 29 days, feeding them every other day.

Photographic Print of A Magellanic penguin on Martillo Island, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, South

6. Magellanic chicks give new meaning to the phrase, “Too blessed to be stressed!” Newly hatched chicks that are frequently visited and handled by tourists are prone to develop high levels of corticosterone, a steroidal stress hormone that is produced by the adrenal gland. Chicks with high levels of corticosterone tend to have weak muscles, stunted or slow growth and weaker immune systems. These little ones must be handled with care.

Magellanic Penguin5. Like, most penguins, Magellanics are monogamous, mating with the same partners every year. The male goes to the burrow he made the previous year and waits to “rekindle the romance” with his female companion. He calls out to the female with a loud cry that sounds like a donkey bray. The female recognizes her partners call, and like magic, they are reunited for another season of breeding and feeding.

4. Watchout Betty White! Magellanics have the longest average lifespan of any penguin species. Whereas other penguins can live anywhere from 6 to 27 years, they can live up to 30 years…That is, if they don’t succumb to threats like predators, commercial fisheries and pollution. Biologists believe that chronic oil pollution off the coast of Argentina kills more than 43,000 Magellanic penguins every year. Climate change has shifted fish populations, forcing the penguins to swim further away for food while their mates are starving back at the nest and weather events like El Nino are thought to cause high chick mortality due to burrow collapses and hypothermia caused by increased rainfall. Some penguins are moving their breeding colonies further north to be closer their prey, causing some of them to become confused and lost.

Danita Delimont – Penguin – Three Magellanic Penguin on beach, Falkland Islands – Light Switch Covers – double toggle switch

3. Spheniscus Magellanicus! No, I didn’t cast a spell from a Harry Potter novel. I just told you the species name of the Magellanic penguin. “Spheniscus” is the Latin word for “banded” and “Magellanicus” is derived from the last name of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who is documented as the first person known to have spotted the birds during an expedition in 1519. Spheniscus Magellanicus! Go ahead, say it…you know you want to! Ha ha… you just turned your dog into a newt.

2. Since they feed in the water, Magellanic penguins ingest large amounts of salt water with the squid, cuttlefish and crustaceans that make up their food pyramid. To purge themselves of the extra salt, they have a gland located in the nasal cavity called the supraorbital gland. This gland functions much like a kidney, but it removes salt from the bloodstream much more efficiently, allowing the penguin to survive without the availability of freshwater.

1. The Magellanic penguin’s status is listed as “near-threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This means that although it does not qualify as a threatened species, it may be considered threatened with extinction upon re-evaluation in the near future. In 2015, the government of the Argentinian province of Chubut established a Marine Protected Area to preserve the feeding area of 500,000 Magellanics as well as other marine life near their breeding colonies. In MPAs, human activity is restricted in order to protect natural or cultural resources. Other objectives of the MPA are to improve fishery standards, advocate the continuous use of marine ecosystems and decrease the effects of climate change.

Well, there ya have it. Ten cool facts about the Magellanic Penguin and a new pet newt. Did we miss any fun facts about this amazing bird? Leave a comment below. Before ya fly off… swim… before ya go, take a moment to like and subscribe for more fun fauna facts. If you’d like to help this channel grow, consider becoming a patron on Patreon. And as always, catch ya next time.


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