Return of Bird of the Week – Chinstrap Penguin


The thing is, it really does look like a chinstrap, holding that black “helmet” on to their heads.

Chinstrap Penguin, South Shetland Island, Southern Ocean

Chinstrap Penguin, South Shetland Island, Southern Ocean

That thin line of black feathers gives the species its name, although they are also called Stonecrackers for the harshness of their calls. This is circumpolar species, with an estimated world population of about 8 million birds.

Chinstrap Penguin, South Shetland Island, Southern Ocean

Chinstrap Penguin, South Shetland Island, Southern Ocean

They are dietary generalists, feeding on krill, squid, shrimp and small fish, which gives them an advantage over some of their more specialist cousins.

Chinstrap Penguin quarreling, South Shetland Island, Southern Ocean

Chinstrap Penguin quarreling, South Shetland Island, Southern Ocean

When WC was at this small colony on Deception Island in early December, courtship was just getting started and the birds beginning to pair up. There were a lot of half-hearted Chinstrap tussles.

Chinstrap Penguin pair, South Shetland Island, Southern Ocean

Chinstrap Penguin pair, South Shetland Island, Southern Ocean

Evolution has perfectly shaped these birds to the Southern Ocean. In the water they are elegant, graceful swimmers, not bothered at all by 30.5° F water in which they live most of their lives.

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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