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Magellanic Penguin

Spheniscus magellanicus

Magellanic penguins are medium sized penguins weighing between 4-5 kg and approximately 70 cm tall. Males are usually larger than females, weighing up to 20% more, and have deeper or thicker bills. These penguins are amongst the most migratory of the penguin species, and can be found along the Atlantic coast from Northern Argentina to the southern coast of Brazil, swimming in waters off the continental shelf, or breeding in colonies along the coast and islands. 

Adults spend half the year at sea, seldom coming ashore. The other half of the year, they are at breeding colonies located in southern Argentina, southern Chile, and the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. The breeding range of Magellanic penguins has expanded to the north with the largest colony at San Lorenzo, on the peninsula of Valdes. These penguins are highly seasonal, breeding season usually starts in mid Septembers to early October with females laying two eggs in burrows or under bushes during October. Chicks hatch after 39-42 days of incubation and fledge in January.

Chicks are covered in light grey down and juveniles lack adult bands on their head and chest. Adults have blackish feathers on their back and head and a white breast. Adults have two black bands between the head and breast, with the lower one forming an inverted u-band across the chest. They have a small patch of bare skin around their eyes and bill during the breeding season. Magellanic penguins in Argentina swim between 10 and 600 km from their nest to forage during when breeding. After the breeding season, juveniles and adults leave the colonies and swim north for the winter, some reaching Brazil in the Atlantic and Peru in the Pacific ocean. Their biggest threats are climate change, competition for prey, fishing bycatch and entanglement, overfishing, and petroleum pollution.

For more information on Magellanic penguin natural history visit the Global Penguin Society at


For more information on Magellanic penguin conservation status visit the IUCN Red List page at

Spheniscus magellanicus (Magellanic Penguin) (

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