Species of the month
Some facts on this penguin:
Head and body length: 65–75 cm.
Weight: 4.4–6.1 kg during breeding season.
Diet: Krill, fish, and small amounts of squid.
Range: Endemic to Macquarie Island and Clerk and Bishop Islets in Australia.
Incubation period: 30–40 days.
Surviving number: Estimated at 1,700,000.
Conservation status: Near Threatened (IUCN 3.1)
First described: By the German ethnographer, naturalist and explorer Otto Finsch, in 1876.
If you're looking for an exemplary husband and wife, Eudyptes schlegeli will certainly satisfy you. These penguins divide the household chores equally between them: The female takes the first two-week shift incubating her eggs, then comes the male's turn. After the egg hatches, the male assumes guard duty while the female forages for food to bring back to their hungry chick. At about 20 days, the chick joins a crèche (a group of youngsters receiving communal care), freeing both parents to bring meals home. When it reaches some 70 days old, the chick will have fledged and can begin to fend for itself. It becomes sexually mature at one year. These birds often form large colonies of up to 500,000 individuals. The nests are usually placed a few hundred meters from the sea and the birds make access routes through the tussock grass. Historically, royal penguins were hunted for their oil and at the industry's peak in 1905, a plant established on Macquarie Island was processing 2000 penguins at a time. Before hunting started, 3 million penguins were living on the islands.
See also: Species of previous months