Best 20 Humboldt penguin facts, habitat, diet, adaptations 

Humboldt penguin

Humboldt penguins are not too large and too small but stand in between. They can weigh upto 10.4 pounds and are twenty-four to twenty-six inches in length. The upper part has a color spectrum of black and grey, the chest or breast has a band of black color, the face is black having white stripes that starts from the head and goes from eyes up to ears.

The bill of these penguins is mostly back, having a light pink base. The newborn humboldt penguins have brown heads, and they develop their chest bands as they grow into adult penguins.


These penguins make their nests near seashores on islands. The ideal nesting sites are slopey rocks, where they can have direct access to the water. Their habitat also primarily depends on their cold habitat, the humboldt wave carries all kinds of nutrients required by this penguin.

This wave coming from the north contains diverse fish species, and krill. All these factors help to build plankton. Humboldt penguins inhabit the seahorse of Chile and Peru, Both of these are located along the Southern parts of Pacific ocean.

Migration: When these penguins are not mating or breeding, they have to travel huge distances so that they can feed themselves. As in the previous years the food for these penguins is becoming rare and scarce, they have to keep travelling for their survival.

Humboldt penguin

Humboldt penguins belong to the family Sphenisciformes, and they hold the scientific name, Spheniscus Humboldti. Humboldt penguins are medium-sized penguins, not too large and not too small. The length of these penguins varies from twenty-six to twenty-eight inches, and their weight is almost about eleven pounds. 

Humboldt penguins have a blackhead containing white stripes on it, the upper parts are black or grey, chest and the inner pieces are white, the chest bears a black patch, and they also have white stripes that run from their eyes to ears and under their chin. 

The beaks of Humboldt penguins are black, but on the base it’s pink. Baby Humboldt penguins have dark brown or black plumage, and they do not have black chest patches. 

Humboldt penguin facts

Humboldt penguins are sea animals, and therefore they spend their most time in the sea. Below are some fantastic facts about this penguin species which you may not know before. 

  1. Humboldt penguins are capable of growing up to twenty-two inches to twenty-six inches. 
  2. The weight of these penguins can range from eight to thirteen pounds.
  3. Humboldt penguins have four layers of feathers that provide them with insulation and make their bodies waterproof.
  4. Humboldt penguins do not have pure black plumage; instead, they have a blackish-grey plumage on the back and white inner parts.
  5. Thorough Humboldt penguins are monomorphic, but males are bigger in size than females.
  6. Humboldt penguins have a band on their chest that resembles a shoe pad, and it extends to their legs.
  7. Humboldt penguins have muscular bodies with upright and streamlined posture, strong flippers for excellent diving and swimming, strong and firm beaks to hold the prey in place and clawed/webbed feet for climbing fluently on the rocks.
  8. The Humboldt penguins are carnivores animals, and as they are small-sized penguins, they eat small fishes like sardines, krill, and squid. 
  9. Humboldt penguins have excellent eyesight which helps them to see clearly underwater. They are capable of diving to a depth of four hundred and ninety-two feet. 
  10. While swimming, Humboldt penguins can reach a speed of twenty miles to thirty miles per hour. 
  11. Humboldt penguins are named “Humboldt” because of an ocean current that mainly occurs in their habitat and is also known as Humboldt wave. 
  12. Like the King penguins, they are also capable of filtering the excess salts through the supraorbital gland. 
  13. Humboldt penguins prefer to live with large colonies. 
  14. Humboldt penguins have developed vocal calls and gestures for communication. 
  15. The predators of the Humboldt penguins include snowy foxes, seals, wild dogs, and caracaras. While in water, they are the prey of sharks, leopard seals, and killer whales. 
  16. Humboldt penguins can breed throughout the year. 
  17. Humboldt penguins lay eggs in a depression of sand or between the stones. The female lays two eggs at a time, and both parents take the responsibilities of incubation. 
  18. Chicks do not leave their nests unless they are mature and have their adult plumage on. 
  19. When there is a scarcity of food, the parents save and feed only the more energetic chick. 
  20. Humboldt penguins are capable of surviving in the wild for fifteen or twenty years. While in captivation, they can live for thirty years. 

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Humboldt penguin habitat

Humboldt penguins got their name from the chilly ocean Humboldt wave. This wave travels in the north from Antarctica to the Pacific coast of South America. That is where the Humboldt penguins live. Surprisingly both the penguins are named after the explorer who discovered them. The wave as well as the penguins, and the person’s name was known as Alexander von Humboldt. 

Humboldt penguin diet

If you are allergic to fish, you may not like Humboldt penguins. Humboldt penguins rely on the marine animals for their fish. Their favourite fish is anchoveta. It is a small fish that lives in the cold water of the South American coast. Humans also hunt for anchoveta, which they use to manufacture animal food. So, the Humboldt penguins lack the meal overall. 

Humboldts also eat soft or hard crustaceans and squid. 

Humboldt penguin scientific name

Humboldt penguins are primarily South American penguins that are present in the National Reserve in North of Chile. However, their habitat is vast, and they occur along the whole coast of Antarctica. The penguins which are most closely related to them are African penguins, Magellanic penguins, and the Galapagos penguin. The scientific name for this species is “Spheniscus humboldti”. 

Humboldt penguin height

Humboldt penguins can grow in length to about twenty-six to twenty-eight inches. Their weight fluctuates during the breeding and moulting season; however, the average weight ranges from 10 pounds to eleven pounds. 

Humboldt penguins have pink patches near their eyes and beaks. They are different from other penguins as they have a black chest patch which continues towards their feet. 

Humboldt penguin adaptations 

Humboldt penguins have developed several adaptations to survive in severe and harsh climates. Some of these include:

  • In addition to the traditional penguin plumage, the Humboldt penguins also have another funky colour in their feathers, and that is “Pink”. The pink colour is not present in their feathers instead of the pink colour appears due to the bald patches which they have around their eyes and under their wings.
  • The pink patches help them to survive in warm climates as well by regulating their body temperatures and let the excess heat escape.
  • Humboldt penguins use their flippers and webbed feet for swimming flawlessly in the waters, and thus they are able to dive at deeper depths.
  • Humboldt penguins have torpedo-shaped bodies, upright posture and streamlined body that also aid them in swimming.
  • Humboldt penguins have four layers of feathers that keep them warm and provide insulation. The innermost layer of the feathers is oily that keeps their body safe from the cold water.
  • Humboldt penguins are capable of travelling 30 miles per hour in water. It helps them from escaping predators.

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Humboldt penguin predators

To be a Humboldt penguin is not easy. They have to face several hazards and threats in the wild. When in the sea they face marine predators like leopard seals, fur seals, sea lions, whales, and sharks. On the other hand, they are not safe on the land as well. On the ground, they become the prey for foxes, snakes and wild dogs.

How many Humboldt penguins are in the world?

The total number of Humboldt penguins globally ranges about twelve thousand breeding pairs. Out of which eight thousand pairs are present in Chile and the rest of the four thousand in Peru. Humboldt penguins are the penguins of Southern America. 

Why is the Humboldt penguin endangered?

Humboldt penguins inhabit only Chile and Peru. Due to limited habitat, they are facing a loss of habitat destruction due to devastating human encroachment. Presence of predators like snakes and rats have caused their population to diminish. Moreover, the increase in global warming is melting the polar caps hence no habitat to live.

What is the habitat of the Humboldt penguin?

The Humboldt penguins inhabit lands and rocky areas. They come to seashores for foraging food, breeding and moulting. The habitat of the Humboldt penguin is profoundly affected by the Humboldt current that brings them a lot of food and cold. This wave is nutrient-rich and aids in the production of plankton and fish.

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Do Humboldt penguins mate for life?

Like other penguins, Humboldt penguins are also monogamous, and they mate with one penguin for life. Male and female both display courtship acts to gain each other’s trust. The female lays the egg on the stones depression or dried guano. Humboldt penguins lay two eggs at a time.

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