Royal Penguins, Eudyptes schlegeli
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Description & Behavior
Royal penguins, Eudyptes schlegeli (Finsch, 1876), are often confused with macaroni penguins, however they can easily be distinguished from the macaroni and other crested penguins by their pale white or gray chins and faces. The crown of their heads, their backs and flippers are black and they have orange bills and yellow crests above their eyes.
World Range & Habitat
Royal penguins, Eudyptes schlegeli, are a migratory species that spends their time, outside of the breeding season, in the southern seas between Australia and Antarctica. They breed on Macquarie Island, which is between Tasmania and Antarctica, however smaller breeding colonies have also been recorded on New Zealand's South Island and Campbell Island.
Feeding Behavior (Ecology)
Royal penguins, Eudyptes schlegeli, reach sexual maturity around age one. Breeding season begins in September when male birds return to the colony to build nests, which are typically made of small stones and lined with grass. The females arrive about 2 weeks later and males begin the mating display of head swinging and calling. Females lay 2 eggs in October, with the 2nd typically the only one incubated (which lasts for 30-40 days). Colonies are large and often found near rockhopper penguin colonies. When the chick hatches, the male stands guard for up to 3 weeks while the female forages at sea. At the end of this phase the chicks need more food, therefore both parents forage while the chicks gather in small crèches. At about 2 months the chicks fledge.
Conservation Status & Comments
Royal penguins used to be hunted for their oil, however they are now protected. Royal penguins, Eudyptes schlegeli, are listed as Vulnerable D2 (VU) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:
A taxon is Vulnerable when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Vulnerable (see Section V), and it is therefore considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
References & Further Research
Research Eudyptes schlegeli » 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
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