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Chinstrap Penguins, Pygoscelis antarctica

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Description & Behavior

Chinstrap penguins, Pygoscelis antarctica (Forster, 1781), like emperor penguins, were also first described by Johann Reinhold Forster, who accompanied Captain Cook on his voyage of the HMS Resolution in 1772. They are characterized by their "chinstrap" — a narrow band of black feathers found just beneath their chins that extends from ear to ear. The chinstrap helps distinguish this species from two other penguins in the same genus, the Adélies and gentoos. Chinstraps stand about 76 cm tall and weigh about 4 kg.

Like most penguins, chinstraps often travel on land by "tobogganing" on their bellies, propelling themselves with their feet and flippers.

World Range & Habitat

Chinstrap penguins, Pygoscelis antarctica, are found in large colonies, or rookeries, along the coast of the South Orkneys, South Shetlands and South Sandwich Islands and in some smaller colonies on the Balleny Islands, south of New Zealand. Chinstrap penguins are an abundant species in the Antarctic and subantarctic regions. Chinstraps are not considered a migratory species, however they do travel to north of the pack ice during the winter months from March through early May.

Feeding Behavior (Ecology)

Chinstrap penguins, Pygoscelis antarctica, feed on krill, small fish and other small crustaceans. They forage around the pack ice, although some have been observed foraging farther out to sea. They dive up to 60 m for about 60 seconds.

Adult chinstrap penguins are preyed on by leopard seals; chicks and eggs are the prey of skua gulls (pictured below) and sheathbills.

Skua gulls

Life History

Female chinstrap penguins, Pygoscelis antarctica, lay 2 eggs in November or December that are incubated by both the males and females for about 37 days. At about 7-8 weeks, the chicks fledge in late February to early March. Other penguin species give preferential feeding to stronger chicks, however chinstraps feed both chicks equally.

Conservation Status & Comments

Chinstrap penguins are the second most abundant penguin species, after macaroni penguins, with populations estimated at about 15,000,000 birds. To protect this species, commercial krill fishing and tourist activity is regulated near breeding colonies.

Penguin populations plummet, climate change blamed
Antarctica Chinstrap penguins suffering the effects of a warming climate
36% of Chinstrap Penguins Missing from Antarctic Island
Population decline of chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica) on Deception Island, South Shetlands, Antarctica, A. Barbosa, J. Benzal, A. De León and J. Moreno

References & Further Research

Center for Biological Diversity: Penguins
Chinstrap Penguins - Wildlife of Antarctica - Antarctic Connection
The Complete Photographic Guide to Birds of the World, Marcus G. Martin's Bird Photo Gallery - Photobirder.com
Bird Information Web Site, Antarctica, North America - www.birdinfo.com

Research Pygoscelis antarctica » Barcode of Life ~ BioOne ~ Biodiversity Heritage Library ~ CITES ~ Cornell Macaulay Library [audio / video] ~ Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) ~ ESA Online Journals ~ FishBase ~ Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department ~ GBIF ~ Google Scholar ~ ITIS ~ IUCN RedList (Threatened Status) ~ Marine Species Identification Portal ~ NCBI (PubMed, GenBank, etc.) ~ Ocean Biogeographic Information System ~ PLOS ~ SIRIS ~ Tree of Life Web Project ~ UNEP-WCMC Species Database ~ WoRMS

Search for Chinstrap Penguins » ARKive ~ Ask.com ~ Bing ~ dmoz ~ Flickr ~ Google ~ OceanFootage ~ Picsearch ~ Wikipedia ~ Yahoo! Images ~ YouTube

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