Penguins are beautiful and lovable aquatic creatures. Though penguins are birds, they cannot fly! Macaroni penguins especially have stiff wings which makes flying even more difficult for them. There are many species of penguins, and the Macaroni penguin is one of the six types of crested penguins, that belong to the genus Eudyptes. The binomial name of this penguin is Eudyptes chrysolophus. These penguins are often confused with the royal penguins, and some people consider them the same species. They are characterized by the color of the face which is black whereas royal penguins have a white colored face.
A habitat is a natural environment of an organism and described as the area where a particular species of plant and animal stays and grows. As far as the habitat is concerned, they live near waterborne areas like cliffs and rocks on the oceans. Macaroni penguins are migratory birds and are widely spread. They generally change their shelters, when breeding or while they forage for food. The range of these penguins extend from sub antarctic to the Antarctic peninsula. And between this range there are around 216 breeding colonies of these penguins. The penguins are also found in South America in regions like the southern Chile, the Falkland islands, and South Orkney Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. As the penguins forage for food they move out and can reach the islands near Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and South Africa. In the Antarctica and Arctic Peninsula, they occupy the following islands - South Shetland Islands, Bouvet Island, the Prince Edward and Marion Islands, the Crozet Islands, the Kerguelen Islands, the Heard and McDonald Islands.
To suit to its habitat, an organism adapts to certain habits and changes. And the process through which it adapts to these changes is called "adaptation". Adaptation is specially important for an organism's survival. Macaroni penguins have sharp vision in the sea, and use it while swimming to protect itself from the predators. They are excellent swimmers owing their ability to use their flippers excellently. In the cold, they use their feathers to cover the outer layers of skin from cold. When sleeping, these penguins tuck their bills behind the flippers
History: The beauty of these penguins is in their yellow colored crests, and they were named "Macaroni" for these yellow colored crests, which resemble some accessories. In the 18th century England, "Maccaronism" was the term used for heavy ornamentation, and the person who carried huge ornamentation was called Macaroni. This is the story behind why the English sailors gave this name to these penguins.
Physical description: Adults (both male and female) are about 70 cm in length and 11 pounds in weight, and the length may vary slightly depending on factors like age and incubation period. The yellow and black plumes on the head which arise from the center of the head and extend to the nape is their characteristic feature, which distinguishes it from other penguins. The head and chin and the underparts are white colored. Their feet is pink colored, and the plumage has a tint of blue which turns to brown as the penguin grows old. The bill of these penguins is orange or brown colored, and the bills of male penguins are slightly larger than the female penguins.
Diet: So, what does the Macaroni penguin eat? They like eating krill, crustaceans, squids and a variety of fish. The eating and foraging habits of these penguins change significantly when there new chicks to be fed.
Life expectancy: In their natural habitat, they are expected to live to the age of 15 years.
Conservation: Owning to marine pollution, the number of these penguins has gone down drastically in certain regions. The IUCN Red List has now listed it under the globally vulnerable species list. Climate changes are also said to affect the reproductive patterns of the female penguins. Thus steps need to be taken to protect and conserve the breeding grounds of these penguins, and to lower the marine pollution.
So this was all about their habitat. Hope this article was useful in understanding the facts on Macaroni penguins. The listing of these penguins under vulnerable species is a cause of concern, and we all should support the steps to protect and conserve this beautiful species of birds.