The Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is a South American penguin, breeding in coastal Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands, with some migrating to Brazil where they are occasionally seen as far north as Rio de Janeiro. It is the most numerous of the Spheniscus penguins. Its nearest relatives are the African, the Humboldt penguin and the Galápagos penguins.
Magellanic penguins are medium-sized penguins which grow to be 61–76 cm (24–30 in) tall and weigh between 2.7 and 6.5 kg (6.0 and 14.3 lb). The males are larger than the females, and the weight of both drops while the parents nurture their young.
Adults have black backs and white abdomens. There are two black bands between the head and the breast, with the lower band shaped in an inverted horseshoe. The head is black with a broad white border that runs from behind the eye, around the black ear-coverts and chin, and joins at the throat. Chicks and younger penguins have grey-blue backs, with a more faded grey-blue colour on their chest. Magellanic penguins can live up to 25 years in the wild, but as much as 30 years in captivity.
The Magellanic penguin is found breed off the coast of Argentina and southern Chile and on the Falkland islands further south. Like other species of penguin the Magellanic penguinspends the majority of it’s time hunting for food in the surrounding ocean, coming onto land to nest in large colonies on the beaches.
Like other penguin species, the Magellanic penguin is a highly sociable bird, living in flocks with numerous other Magellanic penguin individuals. As well as gathering together in large colonies on the beaches during the breeding season, the Magellanic penguin flocks also spend their time out at sea hunting together rather than on their own.
The Magellanic penguin is a carnivorous predator and it’s diet is solely comprised of marine-dwelling animals. The Magellanic penguin primarily hunts cuttlefish and squid in the surrounding waters along with numerous species of fish (including sardines), and krill. Like other penguin species, the Magellanic penguin can dive quite deep for a few minutes at time in order to catch their prey.
The relatively small size of the Magellanic penguin means that it is preyed upon by a number of hungry marine carnivores. Leopard seals and large fur seals are the primarypredators of the Magellanic penguin along with sharks and killer whales. Due to the fact that they nest on quite inhospitable land though, the Magellanic penguin has no naturalpredators on their breeding beaches.
Magellanic penguins nest together on beaches on the rocky islands in their natural range. The female Magellanic penguin lays two eggs in a nest on the beach which are incubated by both parents for up to 40 days. Once hatched, the chicks are cared for by their parents until they are about a month old and are able to fend for themselves.
Today, although quite numerous in some parts, the Magellanic penguin in considered to be a threatened species primarily due to changes in their natural habitats. Oil spills are thought to be the biggest threat to the Magellanic penguin and their native breeding sites across south-east Pacific.