Royal Penguin

Royal Penguin

Scientific name: Eudyptes schlegeli or Eudyptes chrysolophus schlegeli

Size: 5.2 kg (m), 5.3kg (f)
Nest type: in colonies in the open
Favourite food: krill

The Royal Penguin is treated as a separate penguin species (Eudyptes schlegeli) by some. However, other authorities highlight evidence from DNA, morphology and behaviour that points to Royal Penguins being a white-faced variant (Eudyptes chrysolophus schlegeli) of Macaroni Penguins.

In contrast to the other crested penguins, Royal (and Macaroni) Penguins have orange, not yellow, feather plumes. They originate from a supercilium that meets at the front; i.e. higher up the head than in other species. These penguins are also slightly larger than the other crested penguins. Royal Penguins breed on Macquarie Island and most have a white face. Immatures are similar to adults but lack the long feather crest. Instead only a short orange-yellow supercilium is present.

Breeds on rocky slopes, beaches and amongst tussocks. Most birds build a small nest from pebbles and by scraping out some mud or sand, but many pairs are content with laying their two eggs on bare rock. Satellite telemetry studies indicate that Royal penguins forage mainly along the Polar Front regularly travelling up to 400 km to reach a feeding site.

Distribution: map
Breeds on Macquarie Island.

Migration and Vagrancy:
Royal penguins have been recorded, possibly breeding, on Heard, Kerguelen, Crozet Island, and Marion Island amongst dark-faced Macaroni penguins and stragglers have been observed as far north as North Island, New Zealand.

The diet is mainly composed of crustaceans. On Macquarie, euphausiids make up only half the diet by weight, with fish constituting the other half.