Macaroni Penguin

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Height: 71 cm (28 inches) for average adult.

Weight: 3 to 7 kg (7 to 15 lbs) for average adult.

Macaroni Penguin is 10 - 20% shorter than Its Royal Penguin cousin.


  • Black and white.
  • Golden yellow crest joins across forehead.
  • Bill is large, reddish-orange brown with bare pink skin at base.
  • Juveniles covered with dark grey and white down.


  • Pinkish.


  • Krill and small fish.


  • Live in large, high-density colonies located on high plateaus above the water, often on rocks or tussac covered ground.
  • Very noisy colonies with loud braying and trumpeting.
  • Nests are very meager with a few pebbles lining the edges.


  • Male Macaroni Penguins return to colonies first and repair their nest site by collecting pebbles.
  • Females return and courtship starts with vocalizations and the shaking of their golden feathers.
  • The female lay 2 eggs, one smaller than the other. The smaller is ejected from the nest soon after the larger second egg is laid.
  • Both parents take turns incubating the egg relieving each other for fishing expeditions.
  • Males attend the chick closely for the first 3 weeks while the female fishes and returns with a full crop of krill.
  • Crèches form as the chicks reach 3 to 4 weeks of age.
  • When the parents return with food they vocalize loudly to find their chick then engage in calling before the chick is fed.
  • Chicks fledge at 2 months then go to sea.
  • Yearling birds, with grey chins and unsubstantial yellow crests will return to the colony and moult then have fully adult breeding plumage.
  • Winter months are spent at sea in warmer water further north.
  • Monogamous and pair bonds long lasting.


  • Leopard Seals are the main predator when the adults are in the water.
  • Sheathbills steal many eggs.
  • Skuas prey upon young chicks.

Interesting Facts

  • **One of 6 Crested Penguin Species: 1. Erect-crested Penguin 2. Fiordland Penguin 3. Macaroni Penguin 4. Rockhopper Penguin 5. Royal Penguin 6. Snares Penguin
  • All 6 Crested Penguins lay 2 eggs but rear only one chick.
  • Macaroni Penguins are named after the 18th century dandies who made the “Grand Tour” to Italy and returned with their hair dyed in streaks extending in crests over their ears. Returning to England they were called “macaronis” because the only association with Italy was pasta. On exploring south the sailors seeing the crested penguins started calling them Macaronis after the hairstyle. © All rights reserved.

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