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.
- 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.
- **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.