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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

The Humboldt Penguin: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Here are the Humboldt penguin facts for you to read

Though categorized under flightless birds, the Humboldt penguins are well equipped for their flight through the water. Excellent swimmers with agile and streamlined bodies, these birds are native to the west coast of South America. The Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus Humboldti) differs from the other groups of penguins due to the vibrant colors in their existence. Unlike the popular opinion that all types of penguins live in Antarctica, Humboldt penguins live along the shores of Peru and Chile. They have been named after the renowned scientist from Germany, Alexander Von Humboldt  who explored Mexico, Cuba, and other countries in South America. There are various predators like sea lions and sharks that target Humboldt Penguins near their nesting sites.

In case of piqued interest regarding Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti), read along to access some interesting Humboldt penguin facts for kids. After, check out our articles on Adélie penguin and royal penguin as well.

Humboldt Penguin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Humboldt penguin?

Humboldt penguins, belonging to the family of penguins, are basically birds. However, though these organisms are categorized as birds due to the presence of feathers and wings, they cannot fly and fall under the category of flightless birds.

What class of animal does a Humboldt penguin belong to?

The Humboldt penguin belongs to Class Aves; that is an organism whose body is covered with feathers and forelimbs are modified into wings. They lay around two eggs during each breeding season which both the parents take turns to take care of.

How many Humboldt penguins are there in the world?

According to the present report, there are about 12,000 breeding pairs of Humboldt penguin in the world. Their population faces the chance of falling under endangered species in the future. All 18 penguin species are facing threats to their existence and efforts for their conservation are being organized.

Where does a Humboldt penguin live?

The Humboldt penguin is mainly found in South America and particularly in Peru and Chile. As prey species have become increasing scarce, Humboldt penguins must swim long distances to forage for feed.

What is a Humboldt penguin's habitat?

The Humboldt penguins are found to be keen inhabitants of the coastal areas. They are found in the rocky shoreline, near cliffs, islands, open oceans. The range of Humboldt penguin habitat is affected by the Humboldt current, as it is the source of the food ecosystem of these birds.

Who do Humboldt penguins live with?

The Humboldt penguins are friendly and love to move around in groups. In fact, rookeries is the term coined to refer to the group of these organisms.

How long does a Humboldt penguin live?

The Humboldt penguin lifespan is about 15-20 years.

How do they reproduce?

The reproductive cycle in Humboldt penguin depends on a factor like the food availability, habitat condition as well as geographical region. Following their unique courtship, with the idea of mating for life, the male and female penguins work together in partnership through the cycle. Though the eggs can be laid right from the period of March to December, the peak time is usually during April to August. After a few weeks following fertilization, the female Humboldt lays about two eggs (at a time). After the eggs are laid, an average incubation period of about 40-42 days steps in. During this period, both the male as well as the female Humboldt penguin incubate the eggs in partnership. After the eggs hatch, both the parents take turns to look after the chick.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN Red list, the Humboldt penguins fall under the category of Vulnerable species. Factors such as Habitat disturbances, Human encroachment, pollution, climatic factors have impacted the population of these species, leading to their decline. As per the records, presently the breeding pair of these penguins left is about 12,000, out of which about  8,000 pairs can be traced in Chile, while nearly 4,000 can be found in Peru. As a matter of fact, all penguin species in Southern hemisphere have been placed under the threatened list and efforts are being conducted for their conservation.

Humboldt Penguin Fun Facts

What do Humboldt penguins look like?

Belonging to the family of penguins, these organisms possess the fundamental colors of penguins species; that is, the shade of black and white. However, the trait that makes the Humboldt penguins stand out is the presence of a large region extending from the base of their beaks and encircling the eyes. It is basically a flesh of pink color. Blotches of pink, in fact, brighten and lighten up these birds in contrast to the plain black and white colors of the species and can be seen beneath the wings, on the face, and feet. Additionally, the occurrence of black and white feathers (or markings) on the breast and abdomen of  Humboldt penguins contributes to the distinguishing features of these birds. The agile bodies of Humboldt penguins are characteristic of adapting to their mode of living and habitation. They possess wings, webbed feet, black and white shades (for camouflage) for steering and swimming easily. When Humboldt penguin body facts are compared to those of the birds of flight, it is revealed that these birds have denser bone structures for diving. And since these are flightless birds, the dense bone structure has no ill impact. Humboldt penguins have deposits of thick layers of fat, particularly for insulation (trapping of body heat to keep warm). The baby Humboldt differs from their parents as they lack the band of black and white marking and are moreover brown in color instead of black.

Humboldt penguins are slightly brown in color.

How cute are they?

Humboldt penguins are definitely cute. With their peculiar coloring, in contrast to the usual penguin color standards, these birds are quite adorable to behold.

How do they communicate?

The Humboldt penguin communicates by vocal as well as a visual display. The vocalization and the visual display together are quite helpful in communicating defense against intruders,  mating information, chick recognition.

How big is a Humboldt penguin?

A group of medium-sized penguins, the average height of Humboldt penguin, is about  24-27 in.

How fast can a Humboldt penguin fly?

A number of characteristic features of the Humboldt penguin facilitate the speed of these birds' which reaches up to 30 mph. Webbed feet, denser bone in combination with their wings helps the birds to steer, dive and swim in water respectively.

How much does a Humboldt penguin weigh?

The average weight of Humboldt penguin is about 4.4-11 lb.  Male Humboldt penguins are about 1.8 lb heavier when compared to female Humboldt.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no distinct names given to the members of this species on the basis of their gender. The males are called male Humboldt  while the females are called female Humboldt.

What would you call a baby Humboldt penguin?

The babies of Humboldt penguin are called chicks, offspring, or baby-birds.

What do they eat?

The Humboldt penguins are carnivorous organisms and particularly piscivorous; that is, they have a particular inclination to feed on fishes. Anchoveta (a species of small fish) is especially the favorite meal of these organisms. Besides that, they also survive on crustaceans such as shrimp and krill, sardines, and squids. They reside near the shores and their habitat is influenced by the nutrient-rich Humboldt current that plays an essential role in production of plankton as well as ensuring adequate quantities of fishes.

Are they dangerous?

Humboldt penguins do not pose any immediate threats to humankind. These penguins are quite social. The dangerous temperaments of these birds are known to be felt by only their prey. However, they may act (in defense) when continuously provoked.

Would they make a good pet?

Humboldt penguins would not make wonderful pets. However, they can be located in a number of zoos in the United States. For Instance, Denver Zoo,  Akron Zoo, the Saint Louis Zoo, and the Philadelphia Zoo.

Did you know...

Quite interestingly, Humboldt penguins are a group of birds, known popularly to turn crimson! It is during an intense increase in temperature, in order to avoid overheating, these penguins blush pink.

Humboldt penguins are quite energetic and busy birds. The penguin Humboldt keep active throughout the day by engaging in different activities such as preening their feathers, accumulating oil from their glands to smear it on their flippers and feathers.

The color combination of Humboldt penguins helps them in an easy adaptation by providing the advantage of camouflage. While in the oceans or seas, the white and black color tones of the penguin blend with the ocean differently and help to provide concealment.

The eldest Humboldt penguins reported was bout 36 years old.

Though extremely disgusting, the Humboldt penguins are known to build nests of bird poop, as these birds tend to nest in Guano (that is, the excrement of seabirds and bats, used as fertilizer).

The Humboldt penguin's mating process

The Humboldt penguins have an interesting mating procedure. These organisms mate, believing in the concept of mating for life. During the courting routine, Humboldt penguins exchange glances, communicating through their eyes, with the partner they want to woo.  Mutual glances are exchanged with both eyes alternatively. Following this, the Humboldt Penguins stretch their heads and bawl in loud voices, flapping their wings along to attract the partner.

Why is the Humboldt penguin endangered?

The population of the Humboldt penguin has been decimated due to a number of reasons.

Impact of climatic changes: the implacable weather currents brought about by the climatic phenomenon, El Nino as well as the temperature surge in the Pacific Ocean has had severe implications on the species by wiping out their source of food.

Human Activities and Encroachment: a number of activities practiced by human beings have led to pollution in the natural habits of these organisms. Humboldt Penguins also face threat from the encroachment of habitat to harvest fertilizers such as Guano by south American miners induces loss of habitats of these species. Since Guano is a profitable fertilizer, a good number of coastal areas are cleared out for harvesting.

Predators: the population of Humboldt penguins is vulnerable to a number of predators such as sea lions, leopard seals, great white sharks, etc.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including King penguin, or pileated woodpecker.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our humboldt penguin coloring pages.

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