Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Macaroni Penguin

Though you might be thinking pasta, the macaroni penguin received its name for a very different reason. The bird’s bright yellow crest reminded British sailors in the early 1800s of a flamboyant style popular in England at the time called maccaronism. Individuals who adopted this style were often referred to as macaronis; and thus the name stuck.
Photo: Jerzy Strzelecki
Macaroni penguins are thought to be the most abundant species of penguin on earth, with an estimated breeding population of over eleven million pairs. They can be found in and around the southern tip of South America, northern Antarctica and many chains of islands stretching east to South Africa.
Photo: Jerzy Strzelecki
Macaroni penguins are closely related to royal penguins. They are very social animals that often live in colonies of up to 100,000 individuals. Macaroni penguins primarily feed on Antarctic krill during the breeding season, but also hunt a wide variety of other crustaceans, squid and fish. Though still very numerous, macaroni penguins are now classified as vulnerable due to population decline over the last thirty years.

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