Rockhopper Penguin

Rockhopper Penguin

Description: Smallest of the crested penguins, the Rockhopper is black above and white below. The most recognizable feature of the Rockhopper Penguin is its yellow eyebrows that terminate in a series of plumes that extend from the head, behind its red eyes. The Rockhopper Penguin measures about two feet in height and weighs up to eight pounds. Rockhoppers are named for their habit of hopping and jumping from rock to rock.

Diet: Squid, krill, mollusks, octopus, and small fish.

Range: The Rockhopper Penguin breeds in large colonies on many sub-Antarctic islands such as Prince Edward Islands, the Crozet Islands, the Kerguelen Islands, Heard Island, Macquarie Island, New Zealand and Antipodes Islands, the Falkland Islands and islands off of Argentina and Chile.

Nesting: Rockhopper nests are simple scrapes in the ground lined with grasses. The female lays two eggs, though only one chick normally survives. The male and female take turns guarding and incubating the eggs for period of about five weeks. Incubation shifts last about ten days. The male takes care of the chick when it hatches from the egg and the female ventures to the sea to collect food for her mate and new chick. After about four weeks, the young penguin joins a creche (huddle for warmth and protection) with other young penguins. In about six weeks, the young penguins attain adult plumage and venture to the sea on their own.

Status: Although the Rockhopper Penguin is still numerous, some population declines have been noted. There are currently about three million breeding pairs.

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