Chinstrap Penguin

The Chinstrap penguin, belonging to genus Pygoscelis, inhabit south Pacific and Antarctic ocean islands. Its common name come from its thin black band present on its chin. It is also called Bearded penguin, Ringed penguin and Stonecracker penguin. Its present worldwide population stands at 13000000 to 15000000. It is believed to be one of the most aggressive species of penguins.

Chinstrap penguin

Chinstrap penguin


Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Sphenisciformes

Family: Spheniscidae

Genus: Pygoscelis

Species: P. antarcticus

Scientific Name

The scientific name for Chinstrap penguin is Pygoscelis antarcticus.

Physical characteristics

The height of an adult Chinstrap penguin is 70 to 74 centimetres, and their weight is 5 kilograms on average. However, their weight can go down to around 3 kilograms depending on its breeding cycle. Males are bigger and heavier compared to females. Their backside is black, while the front side (the belly) is completely white. The outside of the flippers are black, and the inner side is white. They have reddish-brown pair of eyes, and the bill is black. They have a think, black line across their chin. They possess pink, webbed feet.

Physical description

Physical description


This bird is quite a crafty climber. They prefer to breed in coasts that are free of ice, such as rough foreshores, high cliffs, headlands, rocky seashores etc.


The habitat

The geographical range of Chinstrap penguin

They have a circumpolar geographical range. They usually breed in the Falkland Islands, Argentina, Antarctica, Chile, the French Southern Territories, Bouvet Island, the South Sandwich Islands as well as South Georgia. The scattered population are also found in South Africa, New Zealand and island of Saint Helena among others.

Geographical range

The geographical range

Chinstrap penguin video

Behaviour and Adaptation of Chinstrap penguin

They can swim 70 to 80 kilometres from the seashore in order to forage, and they can swim at a speed of 20 miles per hour. They can dive down as deep as 65 to 70 meters, but it generally tend to be shallow than other penguin species. Each of their dive does not last more than one minute. Their firmly packed feathers help them to stay waterproof; and also help them swimming in freezing waters. They are very social creatures. During breeding season, they gather in great numbers along the seashores. They have several ways of communication including flapping of wings and head nodding, preening and bowing. However, showdowns are common over nesting spaces. It starts with staring or standing one’s ground against each other, but it can ending up in charging and eventually fighting each other.

Chinstrap penguin Reproduction

Chinstrap Penguin is a monogamous species. They breed with the same mate every year. Each breeding colony can have more than 100000 pairs in a season. Males often beat their breast with their wings and raise their head and screech at the start of the season. It is believed to be an act of synchronizing breeding throughout the colony. Males are the first to arrive at the breeding site.

Reproduction of Chinstrap penguin

Reproduction of Chinstrap penguin

They prepare the nest with small rocks. Female lay two eggs following copulation (at the start of December). Both male and female take part in incubation that goes on for 37 days. The newly hatched juveniles stay with their parents for up to a month or so. After that, they join other juveniles and form a group, which is call crèche. It helps them to stay warm. They moult after two months, after which they become able to take their very first journey into the sea by themselves. Once the breeding season gets over, adults stay on the shore for another two or three weeks for their own moulting.

Chinstrap penguin Diet

Their diet consists of krill, fish, squid and shrimp among others.

Diet of Chinstrap penguin

Diet of Chinstrap penguin

Life expectancy of Chinstrap penguin

The lifespan of Chinstrap penguin is between 15 to 20 years.

Vocalization of Chinstrap penguin

They produce a piercing, screeching sound, thus getting the name Stonebreaker penguin.

Chinstrap penguin Predators

Their predators include Sharks, Orcas, Sea lions, Leopard seals. Eggs and juveniles are vulnerable to seabirds (e.g. Suka) also.

Chinstrap penguin Conservation Status

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has kept Pygoscelis antarcticus in the ‘Least concern’ category.

Chinstrap penguin Interesting Facts

  • Its largest population, believed to be around 5 million pairs, inhabits the South Sandwich Islands.
  • Their numbers are decreasing in the Antarctic Peninsula Region. Scientists believe that climate change is the primary reason for this. However, in some regions, their population is increasing even after biodiversity loss.

  • This penguin species is closely related to the Gentoo Penguins.
  • The species name “Pygoscelis” means rump-legged.
  • In the year 2004, two male called Roy and Silo in New York’s Central Park Zoo formed a pair bond; and they tried to ‘hatch’ a piece of rock. Seeing this, the zoo-keeper substituted this with a fertile egg and Roy and Silo successfully hatched the egg and raise a young. ‘And Tango Makes Three’, a popular kids’ book, was based on this event.

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