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Our Expert Says… "This is a burrowing penguin species, one of the so-called "jackass" penguins. These wonderful creatures are definitely a highlight of any Falklands visit. There's a great story about a Magellanic penguin that was rescued by someone in Patagonia, and every winter it still returns to visit its saviour!"

The Magellanic penguin is a South American bird, common off the coast of Patagonia, in Argentina and Chile. It also ranges as far south as the Falkland Islands, where there is a large breeding population.

These medium-sized penguins are easy to identify thanks to the two bands of black feathers they have between their heads and breasts. Mature adult birds have black feet, whereas juveniles have a more mottled pattern, a useful way to age the birds.

These penguins feed on krill and other crustaceans, cuttlefish, and squid. They also seem to have a liking for jellyfish!

During the breeding season, which runs from September to February, they gather in large flocks near to their breeding grounds. They like warmer conditions, and they will make nests either in burrows or hidden under bushes or other vegetation.

Interestingly, Magellanic penguins mate for life, and the males come back to reclaim the same nest or burrow each year. They then wait for their partner to find them. Females use the males’ call to identify them and they reunite. Once breeding is over, these penguins migrate north to warmer waters off the shores of Brazil and Peru.

Although there are millions of individuals, the Megallenic penguin is classified as “Under Threat” and their numbers are dropping rapidly. One study of a colony in Argentina has shown a drop in numbers of almost 25% in 22 years. It is thought that the displacement of their prey caused by climate change is the primary driver for the decline in Magellanic penguin numbers.

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Magellanic Penguin

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