Royal Penguin








Height: 65 to 75 cm (26 to 35 inches) for average adult.

Weight: 3 to 8 kg (7 to 17 lbs) for average adult.

Royal Penguin is 10 to 20% taller than its Macaroni Penguin cousin.


  • Only white faced penguin.
  • 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 brownish-grey and white down.


  • Pinkish.


  • Fish and a few squid.


  • Breed only on Macquarie Island and some surrounding islets.
  • Nest on sandy or rocky slopes or rocky beaches in meager nests with few pebbles lining the edges.
  • Instinct returns them to the same breeding site every year, they return to breed when they are 5 years old.
  • Very noisy colonies with loud braying, gregarious group of penguins.


  • Male return to the breeding grounds and collect pebbles, bones and dig a small hollow in the sand with their belly and feet to make a nest.
  • The females lay 2 eggs, one being twice as large as the other. The smaller is ejected from the nest soon after the larger second egg is laid.Females return and courtship starts with a series of displays with outstretched flippers, heads pointing towards the sky while raucously braying in sequences.
  • The same pairs often come together year after year.
  • The females lay 2 eggs, the first smaller than the second. As soon as the second larger egg is laid; the first is pushed out of the nest.
  • Females incubate the egg for the first 2 weeks when the male takes over the next 2 weeks. Both parents are there when the chick hatches after about 35 days incubation.
  • Females feed the chick during the first 20 days while the male guards the chick.
  • Crèches form as the chicks reach 3 to 4 weeks of age.
  • Parents go fishing together and return to feed the chick every 2 or 3 days.
  • Parents returning from the sea go to their nest, call out to the chick which comes out of the crèches to the nest to feed.
  • Chicks molt and start getting their adult feathers at about 6 weeks then leave the colony.
  • Adults return to the nesting site to moult in early March after spending 5 weeks feeding and putting on the weight needed to endure the 24 to 29 days fast during which they renew their feathers.


  • Skuas prey upon eggs and young chicks.
  • Elephant Seals destroy eggs, chicks and sometimes adults as they move across nesting sites like steamrollers.
  • New Zealand Fur Seals attack Royal Penguins from time to time.
  • Wekas, an introduced bird on several islands including Macquarie Island, walk through the tussock grass snatching eggs and have decimated many colonies.

Interesting Facts

  • **One of 6 Crested Penguins 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.
  • Often considered the subspecies or "the white throated cousin" of the Macaroni Penguin.
  • Royal and Macaroni Penguin are the only species where the head plumes meet on the forehead. © All rights reserved.

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