The Macaroni Penguin is a crested penguin similar to the Rockhopper. Like the Rockhopper it is migratory arriving in the Islands each summer to breed. Macaroni penguins are slightly larger than the rockhopper penguin with distinctive golden orange head plumes which spread out and back from the forehead. It has a prominent pink patch at the gape. Head, throat and back are blue-black and under parts white. The very stout bill is orange-red and feet pink.
Height: 61-69 cm, Length: 66-74 cm
Weight: 3.5 – 5.5 kg. Males weigh heavier than females
Life expectancy: 10-15 years in the wild
Breeding age: 5-6 years
Migratory: Migrate from the Falklands between April and September
Predators: Sea Lions are the main predators at sea. At colonies skuas and striated caracaras can take small chicks from the burrows.
It is near the northern limit of its range in the Falkland Islands where it is the least common of the Falkland species. Very small numbers (24 pairs) at 12 different sites are found in association with southern rockhoppers.
Macaroni penguins nest with rockhopper penguins on cliff tops or steep cliff sides.
Two white eggs are laid in mid-November.
Macaroni and southern rockhopper hybrids are known to occur.
Immature and non-breeding birds moult from mid-January, breeding adults a little later. The birds have departed by the end of April.
Going to sea
Macaroni penguins feed mostly on lobster krill and squid, and less frequently on small fish.
The global population has declined in recent years and its conservation status is Vulnerable.
Their main colonies are further south, principally on South Georgia, where their population is in excess of 3 million.
The primary drivers of declines are uncertain but could include climatic variation and competition for food from commercial fisheries.