Monday 17 November 2008

Magellanic & Humboldt Penguins

The final penguins in the series in today’s post are the Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) and the Humboldt penguin (S. humboldti). Both are from South America and are superficially very similar to the Jackass penguin (S. demersus).

Magellanic penguin
Spheniscus magellanicus (Forster, 1781)

Adult Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus)

Distribution: breeds on Atlantic and Pacific coasts of southern South America from Cape Horn to 42oS on the Atlantic side, and Tierra del Fuego to 29oS on the Pacific side, and the Falkland Islands; non-breeding range extends to southern Brazil and southern Peru; vagrant to Australia, New Zealand, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula.

Size: 70 cm (27½"); males weigh a maximum of 7.8 kg (17 lb) but more usually weigh c.5 kg (about 11 lb); females weigh a maximum of 6.5 kg (14 lb) but 4.5 kg (10 lb) is more usual.

Habitat: bare, grassy, bushy or forested islands and coasts, cliffs and flatter areas.

Diet: mainly small fish, cephalopods (squid) and crustaceans (such as the squat lobster).

Etymology: Spheniscus = “little wedge” in Greek; magellanicus = of the Straits of Magellan, those being named for Ferdinand Magellan the explorer.

Immature Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus)

Humboldt penguin
Spheniscus humboldti Meyen, 1834

Adult Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti)

Distribution: mainland Pacific coastal South America from 5oS (Peru) to 33oS (C Chile), also breeding at 42oS in Southern Chile.

Size: 65 cm (25½"); males 4.1-5.7 kg (9-12½ lb), females 3.6-5.8 kg (8-13 lb).

Habitat: breeds on rocky coasts, sea caves or boulders; their range is heavily influenced by the Humboldt Current.

Diet: anchovy and sardine.

Etymology: Spheniscus = see S. magellanicus; humboldti = of the Humboldt Current, itself named for Alexander von Humboldt the explorer and naturalist.

Humboldt penguin chicks (Spheniscus humboldti) of different ages

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