Humboldt penguins live on rocky, creviced outcrops of coastline which is suitable for constructing nest burrows.
They eat fish, mainly anchovies, krill and squid.
Like all penguins, they have an ungainly waddle on land, which transforms to an easy and graceful swimming technique in the water. In the water they can reach speeds of up to 20mph, using their feet and tail as a rudder to help them steer and turn.
Humboldt penguins make nests in between cracks and crevices in rocks from a substance called guano (which is actually penguin poo). When chicks hatch after a 40 day incubation period, both parents take in turns to care for them. The fluffy chicks will eventually get the waterproof feathers of the adults once they have reached maturity.
The population of Humboldt penguins is declining, caused in part by over-fishing, climate change, and ocean acidification. Penguins are also declining in numbers due to habitat destruction, and in the over collecting of guano by humans. Removal of guano means that penguins cannot build there nests up adequately to protect their chicks, leaving them exposed to predators and severe weather conditions.
In August 2010 penguins in Peru and Chile were granted protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, although enforcement is low. Guano is still a sought over substance, but some measures are being put in place to make it harder to extract. In Peru, the government is responsible for the extraction of guano.
- Latin Name: Spheniscus humboldti
- Class: Birds
- Order: Sphenisciformes
- Family: Spheniscidae
- Conservation Status: Vulnerable
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