Macaroni Penguins on Stamps

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The Macaroni Penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus) is a species of penguin found from the Subantarctic to the Antarctic Peninsula. One of six species of crested penguin, it is very closely related to the Royal Penguin, and some authorities consider the two to be a single species. It bears a distinctive yellow crest, and the face and upperparts are black and sharply delineated from the white underparts. Adults weigh on average 5.5 kg and are 70 cm in length. The male an female are similar in appearance although the male is slightly larger with a relatively larger bill. Like all penguins, it is flightless, with a streamlined body and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine lifestyle.

Its diet consists of a variety of crustaceans, mainly krill, as well as small fish and cephalopods; the species consumes more marine life annually than any other species of seabird. These birds moult once a year, spending about three to four weeks ashore, before returning to the sea. Numbering up to 100,000 individuals, the breeding colonies of the Macaroni Penguin are among the largest and densest of all penguin species. After spending the summer months breeding, penguins disperse into the oceans for six months; a 2009 study found that Macaroni Penguins from Kerguelen travelled over 10,000 km in the central Indian Ocean. With about 18 million individuals, the Macaroni Penguin is the most numerous penguin species. However, widespread declines in populations have been recorded since the mid-1970s. These factors resulted in their conservation status being reclassified as vulnerable.

The Macaroni Penguin was described from the Falkland Islands in 1837 by German naturalist Johann Friedrich von Brandt. It is one of six or so species in the genus Eudyptes, collectively known as crested penguins. The genus name is derived from the Ancient Greek words eu "good", and dyptes "diver". The specific epithet chrysolophus is derived from the Greek words chryse "golden", and lophos "crest".

The common name was recorded from the early 19th century in the Falkland Islands. English sailors apparently named the species for its conspicuous yellow crest; Maccaronism was a term for a particular style in 18th-century England marked by flamboyant or excessive ornamentation. A person who adopted this fashion was labelled a maccaroni or macaroni, as in the song "'Yankee Doodle"

The Macaroni Penguin is a large, crested penguin, similar in appearance to other members of the genus Eudyptes. An adult bird has an average length of around 70 cm; the weight varies markedly depending on time of year and sex. Males average from 3.3 kg after incubating, or 3.7 kg post-moult to 6.4 kg pre-moult, while females average 3.2 kg post-moult to 5.7 kg) pre-moult. The head, chin, throat and upperparts are black and sharply demarcated against the white underparts. The black plumage has a bluish sheen when new and brownish when old. The most striking feature is the yellow crest that arises from a patch on the centre of the forehead, and extends horizontally backwards to the nape. The flippers are blue-black on the upper surface with a white trailing edge, and mainly white underneath with a black tip and leading edge. The large bulbous bill is orange-brown. The iris is red and there is a patch of pinkish bare skin from the base of the bill to the eye. The legs and feet are pink. The male and female are similar in appearance, although males tend to be slightly larger.[3] Males also bear relatively larger bills, which average around 6.1 cm compared to 5.4 cm in females; this feature has been used to tell the sexes apart.

Although the population of Macaroni Penguins is estimated at around 18 million mature individuals, a substantial decline has been recorded in several locations. This includes a 50% reduction in the South Georgia population between the mid 1970s to mid 1990s, and the disappearance of the species from Isla Recalada in Southern Chile. This decline of the overall population in the last 30 years has resulted in the classification of the species as globally Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Long-term monitoring programs are underway at a number of breeding colonies, and many of the islands that support breeding populations of this penguin are protected reserves. The Heard Islands and McDonald Islands are World Heritage Sites for the Macaroni Penguin

 

(Source of text: Wikipedia)

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