You may have seen penguins featured in many wildlife documentaries on National Geographic channel. Of these many types, one of the easily-identifiable species is the chinstrap penguin. These small birds inhabit the rocky islands of the Antarctic ocean. They form the second largest colony of Antarctica and sub Antarctic penguins after the Gentoo penguins. Given below are some more facts about chinstrap penguins.
The habitat of these birds consists of the barren rocky islands of the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic peninsula. They are found living on icebergs formed in the open ocean. Their large colonies are mainly concentrated on the coast of South Orkneys, South Shetlands, and South Sandwich islands. Some of them even breed on the Balleny Islands of south New Zealand.
These birds get their name because of the distinctive thin, curved line of black feathers that runs down and under their chins. The color of these penguins is blue-black on the back and white on the front. They have dense feathers that help protect them from severe cold and even make them waterproof.
The bill is black in color and they have red eyes. They are about 28 inches in height and weigh about 3.5 to 5 kg (7 to 11 pounds). They weigh more during the molting season and lightest during brooding. They are also called 'stone cracker penguins'. This is because they have a very high-pitched call.
They can swim at the speed of 20 mph. They tend to do a 'toboggan' when they land back on the ground. This means that they use their feet and flippers to push their bodies along their stomach on land.
They use their sharp beaks to break open the shells of crustaceans and eat the soft meat inside. Baby penguins generally do not dive in the water for food. Their parents hunt down food and bring it back to land to feed the chicks. They are more shore feeders than open sea hunters.
Chinstrap penguins mate and build their nest from stones. The nest is about 15 inches in diameter and height. The mother penguin lays two eggs and both parents take turns to incubate them. After about 5 to 6 weeks, the chicks begin to hatch. However, these babies do not leave the nest immediately. They stay in the nest for 30 days.
The babies have gray-colored backs and a white front body. When they are about 7 to 9 weeks old, they begin to molt. Soon, they grow adult plumage and get the courage to venture out into the wide sea. These penguins breed in large colonies. There are about 13 million birds living in one colony. Of these, it is estimated there are about 7 million breeding pairs.
Some More Interesting Facts
- The chinstrap penguin is known by different names. These include the stone cracker penguin, ringed penguin, and also bearded penguin.
- These are one of the boldest penguins of all. Although small in size, they have the courage to fight off larger penguin species. They are known as the most aggressive of all penguins.
- They are not considered to be migratory birds. This is because they do not leave their colonies in March through early May to move north in winter.
These were some facts about chinstrap penguins that will help you know more about them. Millions of these birds are living in really large colonies along the Antarctic ocean. The most pugnacious species of all penguins, they are quite an interesting lot.