Magellanic Penguins

photo by Jim Frazier

Penguin name: Magellanic penguin
Scientific name: Spheniscus magellanicus
Size: About 27 inches tall
Location: They live along the coastline of South America, especially Argentina and Chile
What Do They Eat? Magellanic penguins love to eat squid, fish and krill
Main enemies: Sea lions and predatory birds

Photo by Jim Frazier

You guessed it: Magellanic penguins were named after the famous world explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, who was the first to write about them during his journeys around South America in 1519.

photo by *hiro008
Photo by *hiro008

Magellanic penguins are cousins, and close neighbors, of the Humboldt penguins, who also like the warmer temperatures of the South American coastline. However, the waters in that area are rather cool, sweeping up from the sub Antarctic region to the south.

Did you know that when it gets warm, the Magellanic penguins lose their eye feathers? That’s right – the feathers that surround their eyes fall off! Perhaps it’s a weird type of penguin air-conditioning. When it grows cold again, the feathers grow back. Bet you can’t make your eyebrows do that!

Magellanic penguins are also very good swimmers, and they float like ducks – this is because they have very dense feathers. Someone (a scientist probably) counted them once, and discovered that these penguins have about 70 feathers on every inch of their bodies! That’s a lot of feathers, and it makes them very waterproof. So many feathers probably also helps to protect them from the cold water temperatures.

Their markings are a little odd, too. They are black and white like their other penguin cousins, but they also have thin stripes that run right down their middle. Scientists believe that this helps to hide them from predators. These penguins are great swimmers, and they hunt in groups. They use their flipper like canoe paddles, which helps them swim very fast. They don’t dive too deep, unlike many of their cousins, but they like to eat foods that are found close to the surface of the water.

Magellanic penguin couples usually lay two eggs, and they feed both their chicks’ equal amounts of food, unlike many other penguin breeds. When the chicks are about three months old, they are able to swim and hunt for themselves.