Photographer: Jerzy Strzelecki
Macaroni Penguin Range Map (S Chile, S Atlantic & S Indian Oceans)
| Latin Name
| Conservation Status
||S Chilie, S Atlantic & S Indian Ocean
||Black & White
|| Up to 71 cm (28 inches)
||3.5 - 6.5 Kgs (7.75 - 14 lbs)
| Life Expectancy
Macaroni Penguins are the most numerous species of penguin. They are very similar to royal penguins and the two are often confused. They reach heights up to 71 cms (28 inches) and they weigh between 3.5 and 6.5 kgs (7.75 - 14 lbs).
They have a black face, chin and back and they are coloured white on their front. Their beak is red/brown in colour and they have a yellow, orange and black crest on their head.
Macaroni Penguins are noisy, aggressive birds and they emit raucous braying sounds when on land and short barks at sea.
Macaroni Penguins are found in the Antarctic region and they breed on many islands including South Georgia, Crozet, Macdonald, Keuguelen and Heard.
Macaroni Penguins feed on krill, fish and squid. They capture their prey on pursuit dives at depths of 15 - 60 m (50 - 200 ft) although they can dive to 90 m (300 ft) if required. These dives rarely last longer than 2 minutes and mainly occur during the day. They sometimes feed during the night but they only dive up to 6 m (20 ft) in depth during night time forages.
During the summer months Macaroni Penguins breed in huge, tightly packed colonies. Females lay 2 eggs in a shallow scrape in the ground but usually only the second, larger egg is incubated.
The egg is incubated by both parents and after approximately 34 days it hatches. The chick is looked after by the male for the first 3 - 4 weeks while the female brings food for them both. When the chicks are large enough they join a nursery group with other chicks, which is known as a creche. This enables both parents to hunt for food to satisfy the chick's growing appetite.
When the chick reaches 10 weeks old it will have gained its full adult plumage and is ready to go to sea.
Predators of Macaroni Penguins include leopard seals, sea lions and killer whales. Eggs and chicks are preyed upon by skuas, gulls, petrels and other shore birds.
There are no subspecies of the Macaroni Penguin.
Macaroni Penguins are members of the crested penguin group which also includes the:
The current population of Macaroni Penguins is approximately 12 million pairs.
Macaroni Penguins are the largest of the 6 species of crested penguins.
The character named Lovelace in the film Happy Feet is a Macaroni Penguin.
Macaroni Penguins were named by early English explorers due to the yellow crest of feathers on their head which resembled the feathers worn in the hats of young 18th century men called "macaronis".