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Chinstrap Penguin Fact File

Appearance

The chinstrap penguin is named for the thin band of black feathers which wraps around the face from one ear to the other.

Their feathers are colored blue-black across the back and on the cap of the head with white on the underside of the body and flippers.

Chinstrap penguins have a black beak. Their eye is reddish in color.

Their feathers are tightly packed to make them waterproof. They also have a thick layer of blubber.

On average a chinstrap penguin will weigh-in at 3.5 to 5.5kg (7.7-12.1lbs). They stand 71 to 76cm (28-30in) tall. Males tend to be larger and heavier than the females.

Chinstrap penguins are one of eighteen penguin species. Their closest relatives are the gentoo and adelie penguins.

Diet

The chinstrap penguin is a carnivore. Their diet is made up of krill, small fish and other small crustaceans.

Hunting mostly takes place at night around midnight.

Feeding occurs close to their breeding site. Each day while foraging they may travel up to 80km (50miles).

Chinstrap Penguin

Scientific Name

Pygoscelis antarcticus

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Weight

3.5-5.5kg (7.7-12.1lbs)

Length

71-76cm (28-30in)

Lifespan

20 years

Diet

Carnivorous

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Range

Chinstrap penguins are found on a range of islands throughout the Antarctic region. They are found on the Antarctic Peninsula. A small population exist on the Balleny Islands to the South of New Zealand.

Habitat

They make their home in areas with light pack ice with much of their time spent in the water.

Chinstrap Penguin

Reproduction

Breeding activity occurs throughout October and November. For the breeding season they will gather in large colonies. Pairs tend to remain together for multiple years.

At the start of the breeding season the males will beat their chests and raise their flippers while screeching. This helps the them to synchronize their breeding season. Males arrive before the breeding season begins.

The nest for the chinstrap penguin is formed in a shallow bowl among rocks and rocks or bones are added to this.

In to the nest the female will deposit two eggs in late November. Males and females will share incubation duties throughout the 33 to 36 day incubation period.

Unlike most other species of penguins which favor one chick to ensure it survives these birds will work to raise both chicks through to adulthood.

Within a month the chicks will join a creche with other penguin chicks. In the creche the chicks are kept warm and the numbers of them helps to keep them safe from predators.

Fledging occurs from 7 to 8 weeks old.

In years where sea ice remains close to the colony they will have lower breeding success.

Behavior

Chinstrap penguins are are able to dive to a depth of up to 70m (230ft) deep. These dives may last between 20 and 30 seconds.

On land the chinstrap penguin will move around by tobogganing. This involves them laying on their stomach and propelling themselves forward using their feet and flippers.

These penguins communicate with one another by flipper or head waving, bowing, gesturing or preening one another.

Chinstrap penguins live in colonies which may have up to 100,000 members.

After the breeding season the chinstrap penguins will remain on land to undertake their molt. During this the feathers are all shed and replaced with new ones. During this period they are not waterproof and can not go in the water. As such prior to this they have to gain weight to survive this period.

Chinstrap Penguin

Predators and Threats

At sea chinstrap penguins will face predation from the leopard seals and orcas while on land sheathbills and skuas will target chicks and their eggs.

Climate change appears to be impacting the population of krill which as the main food source for this species poses a major threat. Their is also an increasing krill fishing industry which presents another threat.

Quick facts

The largest population of chinstrap penguins is found on Zavodovski Island in the South Sandwich Islands. Two million of these birds are found here.

Chinstrap penguins are also known as ringed penguins, bearded penguins and stonecracker penguins.

The name stonecracker penguin is derived from a high-pitched call they produce.

Chinstrap Penguin

Photo Credits

Under License

References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

BirdLife International. 2020. Pygoscelis antarcticus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T22697761A184807209. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T22697761A184807209.en. Downloaded on 03 May 2021.

Antarctica.gov.au. 2021. Chinstrap penguins. [online] Available at: <https://www.antarctica.gov.au/about-antarctica/animals/penguins/chinstrap-penguins/> [Accessed 3 May 2021].

Oceanwide Expeditions. 2021. Chinstrap Penguin. [online] Available at: <https://oceanwide-expeditions.com/to-do/wildlife/chinstrap-penguin> [Accessed 3 May 2021].

Seaworld.org. 2021. Chinstrap Penguin Facts and Information | SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. [online] Available at: <https://seaworld.org/animals/facts/birds/chinstrap-penguin/> [Accessed 3 May 2021].

British Antarctic Survey. 2021. Chinstrap penguin – British Antarctic Survey. [online] Available at: <https://www.bas.ac.uk/about/antarctica/wildlife/penguins/chinstrap-penguin/> [Accessed 3 May 2021].

Coulson, M. 2001. "Pygoscelis antarcticus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed May 03, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Pygoscelis_antarcticus/

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