The thing is, it really does look like a chinstrap, holding that black “helmet” on to their heads.
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.
They are dietary generalists, feeding on krill, squid, shrimp and small fish, which gives them an advantage over some of their more specialist cousins.
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.
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.