The Humboldt Penguin is distinguished from the
by a wide, solid black breast band, which also
helps in distinguishing adults from juveniles,
who have a darker head. It also has splotchy pink
patches on its face and feet, as well as the
underside of the wings. The pink is the result of
bare skin patches, an adaptation that helps keep
the bird cool in a warmer climate.
Humboldts are medium-sized penguins, averaging
28 inches long and weighing about 9 pounds.
Females are slightly smaller than males, but
otherwise look very similar.
The Humboldt is endemic to the subtropical
Pacific coasts of Chile and Peru. This area is
located adjacent to the Humboldt Current, a large
oceanic upwelling characterized by cold, nutrient
rich waters, and for which it is named.
Although it spends a considerable amont of
time in the water, the Humboldt must come ashore
to rest, breed, and raise young. Its preferred
habitat is rocky shoreline with large deposits of
guano for nesting, but it will occasionally use a
cave along the shore.
Humboldt penguins specialize on schooling
gish, especially anchovies and herrings, but also
take squid, shrimp, and krill.
penguins, Humboldts are usually monogamous and
recognize their partner in the colony through
distinct vocal cues. In rare cases, the female
will solicit another male for mating. One rare
trait of the mating of Humboldt penguins is that
males may start usurps, defined as an unpaired
male that invades the nest of an established
pair, a strategy which can lead to the injury and
even death of the invader.
takes place between March and December, with
peaks in April and August to September. Before
mating begins, the penguins spend about two weeks
molting and fasting, then go to sea to feed
before returning to the breeding grounds to mate.
The male arrives at a site a few days before the
female and prepares the nest burrow, which is
usually dug into the thick deposits of guano
found on the shore line; sometimes they nest in
rocky crevices. After the two eggs have been laid
the male and female will share the duty of
attending to the nest for the full extent of the
approximately six-week incubation period. Chicks
rarely leave their nest scrape until they are
fledged at about 12 weeks. They then fend for
themselves along the coast for several months
before returning to establish their own nests,
often within the same colony where they were
Humboldts live in large colonies and are
highly social except during foraging. Individuals
have vocalizations that are unique and
distinguishable by mates.
genus & species Spheniscus humboldti
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Spheniscus_humboldti/
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