Thursday 13 November 2008

Macaroni & Royal Penguins

“Yankee Doodle went to town,
A-riding on a pony;
Stuck a feather in his cap;
And called it macaroni.”

The “macaroni” referred to here is nothing to do with pasta; it was an 18th Century term for a fashionable man dressed outlandishly. Having a feather in your cap apparently qualified for “outlandishly”. The two penguins featured here both have excessive plumes on their crown, which must have reminded the folk at the time of a macaroni Englishman; hence the name “macaroni penguin” (Eudyptes chrysolophus). The name of the royal penguin (E. schlegeli), however, conjures up less foppish connotations.

Macaroni penguin
Eudyptes chrysolophus (Brandt, 1837)

Adult macaroni penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus)

Distribution: circumpolar; close to Antarctic Convergence; sub-Antarctic islands of south Atlantic and south Indian oceans (46-65oS); most southerly-breeding Eudyptes penguin; non-breeding range unknown, but probably in surrounding areas; vagrant to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Size: 71 cm (28"); males up to 6.6 kg (14½ lb); females up to 6.3 kg (14 lb).

Habitat: sub-Antarctic and Antarctic waters north of pack-ice; breeds on steep slopes, headlands and level ground; usually no vegetation or some tussock grass.

Diet: mainly krill, but also cephalopods (squid), fish (like icefish), amphipods and other crustaceans.

Etymology: Eudyptes = “good diver” in Greek; chrysolophus = “golden crest” in Greek.

Macaroni penguin chicks (Eudyptes chrysolophus) of different ages

Although the Royal penguin is here considered a species in its own right, it is often thought of as merely a subspecies of Macaroni penguin.

Royal penguin
Eudyptes schlegeli Finsch, 1876

Adult royal penguin (Eudyptes schlegeli)

Distribution: breeds only on Macquarie Island south of New Zealand, but belonging to Australia, and surrounding small islets; in winter it lives around the islands in sub-Antarctic waters; vagrant to New Zealand, Australia and Antarctica.

Size: 65-75 cm (25½-29½"); largest Eudyptes species; males and females up to 8.1 kg (18 lb), but more usually up to 7 kg (15½ lb) for a male and 6.3 kg (14 lb) for a female.

Habitat: sub-Antarctic waters around Macquarie Island; breeds along the coast, scree slopes and hills up to 1.6 km (1 mile) inland and 150 m (490') above sea level; nests on open, level, sandy or rocky ground without vegetation.

Diet: krill, amphipods, fish and cephalopods (squid).

Etymology: Eudyptes = see E. chrysolophus; schlegeli = after Hermann Schlegel.

Immature royal penguin (Eudyptes schlegeli)

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