Mating & Breeding Habits of Macaroni Penguins
Macaroni Penguins are one of six different species of crested penguins, a close relative of the more well known Royal Penguin. This penguin species can be found from the Sub-antarctic to the Antarctic Penisula, and makes up one of the largest breeding colonies of all species of penguins, breeding once yearly.
Breeding takes place during the summer months. Once the breeding period is over, the colony takes to the sea for the next six months. During their time at sea, some Macaroni Penguins, equipped with geolocation sensors, have been recorded travelling over 6,000 miles in the Central Indian Ocean on their quest for food.
Macaroni Penguins are estimated to consume more than nine million tons of krill each year. Antarctic krill makes up the majority of the penguins diet during the mating season. Macaroni Penguins also eat a great deal of crustaceans, fish, and squid.
Males begin breeding at around the age of five, while the breeding age for females starts at around age six. According to studies, three quarters of penguins will keep the same mate the following year. The females lays two eggs. The first egg is discarded once the second egg is laid. The second egg is usually the larger, better egg of the two. Both parent penguins take turns caring for and incubating the egg.
During the first twelve days of the incubation process egg warming time is shared equally between the male and female penguin, after which the male returns to sea. The female stays and continues incubating the egg until the male returns and the female can take her turn at sea.
Both parent penguins lose approximately half of their body weight during the incubation period and before the chick is hatched due to fasting. For the first two months both parents will take care of the new hatchling until he is old enough to go out to sea alone.
There are approximately over eleven million pairs of Macaroni Penguins, yet they are considered to be a vulnerable species. This is because from the 1970s to the 1990s, their numbers declined drastically. This was a decline of approximately 50% of the Macaroni Penguin population.
Populations of Macaroni Penguins can be found in the following regions including: Prince Edward Island, Marion Islands, Chile, Antarctica, Antarctic Penisula, Australia, New Zealand, and the Falkland Islands.Macaroni Penguins are beautiful yellow crested creatures that are very vocal and showy during their mating rituals, their breeding colonies are an amazing sight to see.
Some common predators of the Macaroni Penguins includes a variety of seals. The Antarctic Fur Seal and Leopard Seal will sometimes hunt adult Macaroni Penguins while in the water, but mainly stick to eggs and chicks when hunting for food. a variety of seals are the most common predators of the Macaroni Penguins.