Wildlife Wednesday: Magellanic Penguins

They may not be tap dance masters or strategic geniuses, but Magellanic penguins have their own set of skills. Learn about them in this Wildlife Wednesday!

Whether through their militaristic tactics in Madagascar or their mad dancing skills in Happy Feet, penguins of all species have been taking the world by storm. This week for Wildlife Wednesday, we’re fishing for some information about one of those species, the Magellanic penguin, and are sharing our findings with you.


While these particular flightless birds are known to take the occasional swim down to Antarctica, they normally make their homes along the chilly coastal areas of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, the Falkland Islands, and even the southern regions of Brazil.


  • While it’s well known that all penguins are proficient swimmers, these guys and gals can reach depths of 90 metres (300 feet) in order to grab a bite to eat.
  • The Magellanic penguin is the largest bird of its genus (Spheniscus), standing at a proud 28 in (70 cm) tall.
  • While not all-star singers by any account, males are known to bray like a donkey in order to attract a mate.
  • A family man at heart, males will swap up egg-warming roles with his mate, giving both parents a chance to stretch their flippers and forage for tasty, tasty fish.

Why are they threatened?

With an estimated 1.3 million breeding pairs, you would think that these classy fish-eaters would be pretty safe. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case; research teams have proven that this bird’s numbers are on the decline.

Global warming is a major cause of this, as the increasing number of rainstorms means that chicks—who don’t have the same waterproofing that their parents do—get drenched and develop hypothermia. In other cases, heat waves that roll through nesting grounds leave chicks high and dry, as they can’t cool themselves by taking a swim.

Other threats are caused by fisheries, which may affect the penguins’ food sources, and oil pollution.

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