Royal penguins, having the scientific name “Eudyptes schlegeli,” come under the category of crested penguins. Like all penguins, royal penguins also have unique features through which they become distinctive. Royal penguins have a huge orange bill, yellow or faint-yellow colored face. Their crest is lengthy and consists of orange and yellow feathers.
The former mentioned plumage begins from their forehead as black crowns, and it continues to the sides and the top of their heads. Royal penguins tend to migrate a lot, and they can travel huge distances. They often travel to Australia, Tasmania, and also to New Zealand.
Royal penguin habitat:
Like most penguins, you will also spot royal penguins on the islands near the sea and on bare lands where there they find vegetation, over the lands having rocky slopes. The movement and the life of these penguins when they migrate is hard to explain. Royal penguins breed on summer grounds in the seasons of spring and summer in large colonies.
During the winters, royal penguins restrict themselves to Macquarie islands. Royal penguins are mistaken with the Macaroni penguins. Some of the taxonomists even say that the royal penguin is actually a subspecies of macaroni penguin.
Royal penguin weight:
Within the genus “royal penguin Eudyptes,” the royal penguins come under the largest, and tallest penguin species. Royal penguins are almost twenty-eight inches in length, and they weigh around four to six kilograms. Male royal penguins are bulkier and slightly larger than the female members.
Juvenile royal penguins do not have feathers with orange and yellow colors when they are born, instead they only have yellow striped feathers over the eyes. Young chicks have an overall plumage of black and white, and they grow new feathers eventually.
Royal penguin predators and prey:
As royal penguins (Eudyptes schlegeli) are habitual to the areas like islands, therefore most of their diet comes through the seafood. Similar to other penguins, royal penguins love to munch upon krill, small fish species, crustaceans, and cephalopods.
Major predators of the royal penguins are fur seals, southern elephant seals. Elephant seals are even known to crush these through their weight. On the other hand, eggs and the juvenile are most often in danger by skuas.
Climate change is also acting as a predator for this magnificent species.
Royal penguin nest and breeding:
During the winters, male forage near the seashores, and after the winter season, it’s time for them to breed. For breeding, royal penguins return to Macquarie island and its surroundings known as nearby bishop clerk islands near the Southern ocean to deliver young ones.
The breeding season begins from September, and lasts till February. For starters, males initiate the breeding season . Males arrive at the breeding sites to begin the breeding process. It is the responsibility of the males to build nests, and for that they create holes in the sand, and along with the rocky slopes where they have to construct the royal penguins nest. The nest contains small rocks, twings, and tussocks.
Females arrive at breeding colonies in early October, where they mate with the males in large colonies. Royal penguins form monogamous pairs, and each female is capable of producing two eggs in a single clutch per annum. The survival rate of these two eggs is minimum as compared to other crested penguins, and other species. The second egg is laid after a couple of days of laying the first egg.
The mother forages for the chicks after forty days of the delivery. Male penguins guard their chicks until they are prepared to join the other chicks. In the late february, chicks are ready to flee away from their nests.
Maternal infanticide in Royal penguin
Royal penguins have seen an unbelievable reduction in brood. With time, these penguins produce the first egg smaller than the second egg. After some time, that egg eventually vanishes from the nest as well. Why do they do that? and what is the reason behind this is still unknown. Most of the time the disappearance of the first egg takes place when the second egg is ready to be laid. The phenomenon is greatly studied in “Unfit mothers.”
Royal penguin fun facts
- Scientists are still struggling to become aware where and how royal penguins spend the winter season.
- The Royal penguin’s beautiful crest is the most beautiful and attractive thing about these penguins. They generally have white face
- These penguins are expected to live in the wild for twelve years.
- IUCN conservation status for royal penguins is “NT.”
- The crest of royal penguins contain orange, yellow, and black feathers that continue from head to side of the ears, and then towards the rare head.
- Legs of the royal penguins are pink whereas their claws contain a hinge of pale.
- Royal penguins only breed on the Macquarie islands and nearby islets, this species does not breed anywhere else in close proximity. Macquarie island is the land between Antarctica, and Australia. As these penguins only breed here it is very essential to ensure it’s positive conservation status.
- Royal penguins are capable of diving one hundred-and fifty dives in the ocean daily.
- Both parents forage and rear their young ones. During the initial period after hatching mostly female forages, while the male remains with the chick.
- Females arrive in October during the breeding season.
- In the early nineteenth and twentieth century, royal penguins were hunted aggressively for their oil.
- Royal penguin’s vegetation consists of soil, mud and green areas.
- Breeding colonies or principal colonies of royal penguins are on Macquarie island, bishop and clerk islands. Somes of the lost penguins may reach Falkland islands, South Georgia, and Sandwich islands.
- The royal penguin population was heavily exploited in the late eighties as they were brutally hunted for their oil.
- Royal penguins are often considered as macaroni penguins because of their yellow crest.
- Scientific name for the royal penguin is “Royal penguin eudyptes schlegeli.”
- Royal penguins feed on fish, krill, squid, and small crustaceans.
- Female lays two eggs in a single clutch.
- The chicks grow into their adult plumage after the period of sixty-five days.
- Climate change, predators, and increasing types and numbers of diseases are putting these penguins in danger with every passing day.
- Royal penguins are also considered as “Flightless birds of the Southern Hemisphere.”
- Royal penguins usually discard their first egg for not any logical reason.
- Royal penguins hunt for two species of krill that include Euphausia valentini, and Thysanoessa gregaria.
- This species of penguin reaches sexual maturity at the age of seven to nine years. The current population of this species is unbelievably stable.