The common name of the species is taken from macaroni
fashion, the name for the exaggerated style
of dress that appeared in Europe during the late
18th century. The name is appropriate, as the
macaroni's most distinguishing feature is the
crest of golden-yellow plume-like feathers that
arise from a central patch on the forehead,
extending back along the crown and drooping down
behind each eye. The seemingly oversized red bill
contributes to the look. The head, chin, throat,
and upperparts are black, the underparts are
white, and the flippers are black on the upper
surface and mainly white below. Juveniles
resemble adults in most respects, but their
brownish eyes and the absence of a yellow-orange
crest distinguishes them from adults. The chicks
have gray feathers on their back and a white
One the biggest and heaviest of the penguins,
the macaroni stands a little over 2 feet tall and
weighs about 13 pounds; females are a little
smaller than males.
Although macaronis can remain under water for
long periods of time, they typically surface
after two or three minutes to breathe. As they
swim, they use their webbed feet to steer, with
the help of their tails, which serve as a rudder.
They regularly dive to depths up to 230 feet in
search of food, but have been seen as deep as 375
Distribution and Habitat
The macaroni is among the most numerous
penguin species in the world, with a population
of approximately 18 million. It spends most of
its time during the colder winter months fishing
in the cold oceans surrounding the antarctic
continent, and breeds on sub-Antarctic islands in
the Atlantic and Indian oceans, with at least one
breeding population on the Antarctic Peninsula.
The largest gathering of macaroni penguins is on
South Georgia Island, with almost 3 million
Macaronis breed on rocky, water-bound areas,
on rocks and cliffs above the ocean.
Approximately 95 per cent of the macaroni's
diet consists of krill, with squid making up the
majority of the remainder.
at their breeding grounds in late October, and
begin laying their eggs in early November.
Macaroni penguins may assemble by the millions in
their massive rookeries and can be smelled as far
as 5-6 miles offshore. Most breeding pairs are
monogamous, and they tend to return to the same
nest each year. Macaroni penguin nests are made
from scrapes found in mud or gravel among rocks.
penguins are atypical in that the first egg of
the breeding season is much smaller and less
likely to develop than the second egg. Incubation
is shared by both parents in long shifts. Eggs
hatch after 33 to 37 days. The male broods and
guards the chicks for 23 to 25 days while the
females bring food daily. Chicks then gather into
small creches and are fed every 1 to 2 days until
they are ready to leave and go to sea, at 60 to
70 days old. Macaroni penguins leave their
breeding colony by April or May.
macaroni penguins become sexually mature at age
five, whereas most males wait until age six to
breed. Life span in the wild is 8-15 years.
genus & species Eudyptes chrysolophus
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Eudyptes_chrysolophus/
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