Return of Bird of the Week: Magellanic Penguin


Magellanic Penguin in Burrow, West Point Island, Falkland Islands

Magellanic Penguin in Burrow, West Point Island, Falkland Islands

WC will stay with penguins just a little bit longer because flightless birds are cool, too. The Magellanic Penguin is unusual in several ways. First, it is the only species of bird in the range that has a breeding colony protected by land mines. You can’t make this stuff up.

Magellanic Penguins near Stanley, in a no-go zone, East Falkland Island

Magellanic Penguins near Stanley, in a no-go zone, East Falkland Island

The Magellanic Penguins’ range includes the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. In the Argentine-Britain War in 1982, the Argentines placed land mines on several beaches. One of those beaches was the site of a large Magellanic Penguin colony, empty of penguins at the time of the war. Magellanic Penguins aren’t heavy enough to set the land mines off; people are. Birding, you see, is not entirely low-risk.

Second, Magellanic Penguins prefer to nest in burrows. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the idea of a waddling penguin with wings that have evolved into flippers doing any serious digging, but they do, excavating cavities a meter or more deep. The burrows provide some protection, allowing both parents to go on foraging expeditions.

Magellanic Penguin Heading Out to Feed, West Point Island, Falkland Islands

Magellanic Penguin Heading Out to Feed, West Point Island, Falkland Islands

Magellanic Penguins are classified as near-threatened, and face a variety of risks: beach development in Argentina, increased heavy rainstorms that fill the burrows with water and declines in prey. The situation isn’t dire, but the risks are real.

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

 

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