Habitat and Distribution: Found in forests, on cliff faces, or on flat land along the southern coast of South America.
Size: About 27 inches tall; 5-17 pounds
Wild Diet: Cuttlefish, anchovies, sardines, squid, krill, and other marine cephalopods and crustaceans.
Predators: Giant petrels, foxes, pumas, sea lions and killer whales. Young penguins and eggs may fall prey to kelp gulls, great skuas, lesser grisons (members of the weasel family), and large hairy armadillos.
Lifespan: Up to 25 years in the wild; 30 in zoos and aquariums
Reproduction: Magellanic penguins are monogamous. They breed once in September-October and again in January-February. Females lay two eggs in a burrow, but usually only the first-hatched chick survives. Parents take shifts to incubate the eggs until they hatch 5-6 weeks later. Newborn chicks depend on their parents for food and warmth and will not leave their side for about a month. After that, parents may leave the chick alone for a few days at a time to forage underwater.
Behavior: When not breeding, Magellanic penguins have a pelagic lifestyle, spending most of thier time at sea. During breeding seasons, they nest along grassy shorelines. This type of habitat provides shelter while allowing them to stay close to the water. Mated pairs preen each other and hit their bill tips against each other to strengthen their bond.
IUCN Status: Near Threatened
Magellanic penguins face a number of threats including oil spills, climate change, pollution, predation, and commercial fishing, which depletes populations of small fish that are crucial to their diet. They are also hunted for their meat and skins.
Did you know?
- Magellanic penguins can hold their breath for 3-5 minutes.
- Males attract mates by “braying” like donkeys. When a female responds, he walks around her in a circle and pats her with his flippers.