Chinstrap Penguin

Scientific name: Pygoscelis antarctica

Size: 5.0 kg (m), 4.8 kg (f)
Nest type: in colonies in the open
Favourite food: krill

This delicately coloured bird is arguably the most beautiful of penguins. In contrast to other adult penguins, apart from Royal Penguins, this species has a white face. This is separated from the white belly by a thin dark line running under the lower part of the chin - therefore the name.

Chinstrap Penguins are medium-sized penguins, easily recognised by their white face and the fine black line across the cheeks. The demarcation between the black and white lies above the eye, isolating the dark eye in the white plumage. The bill is black. In contrast to most other penguins, juvenile Chinstraps closely resemble their parents. Until their first moult, juveniles can be recognised by dark spotting around the eyes and a slightly shorter bill.

Usually breeds on hillside slopes and rocky outcrops in colonies that sometimes can be enormous. At the South Shetlands, Chinstrap Penguins often breed amongst other Pygoscelis penguins, though usually on steeper slopes. Their marine distribution seems to be linked with the limits of the continental shelf and the confluence of the Antarctic circumpolar and Weddell Sea currents.

Distribution: map
Intermediate between the Adelie in the south and the Gentoo Penguin in the north. Breeding colonies are almost exclusively on the Scotia Arc: that is, around the Antarctic Peninsula on South Georgia, South Orkney, South Shetland, and South Sandwich Islands (vast numbers on the latter). Small numbers also breed on Bouvetøya, Peter First, Heard and Balleny Islands.

Migration and Vagrancy:
Chinstrap Penguins leave their breeding colonies during winter, probably migrating north of the pack-ice and stay at sea until the next spring. Non-breeders have been recorded in Adelie Land, Antarctica and stragglers have reached Australia and Tierra del Fuego.

Chinstrap Penguins feed almost exclusively on krill (Euphasia superba). Other crustaceans and fish play a minor role.

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