Woodborough Farmhouse

Chinstrap Penguins

Chinstrap penguins, sometimes known as 'ringed' penguins or 'bearded penguins' belong to one of the most abundant of penguin species, estimated in 2001 to be at least 8,000,000 breeding pairs. They average 28 inches in height and are therefore a little smaller than Gentoo Penguins but a little larger than Adelie Penguins - these being the two species in which they have most in common. They are black and white but, unusually, have white faces. The distinguising characteristic is a narrow band of black feathers from the back of the top of their heads running under their chins and around the other side of their heads.

Chinstraps form very large breeding colonies (often in excess of 100,000 pairs), preferring to nest on ice free islands around Antarctica. The breeding season generally starts in November and the female lays two eggs in a nest made of stones. The male and femals both take turns in incubation and the raising of chicks. They generally raise both chicks rather than abandoning the weaker as some penguin species do. The diet of Chinstraps is mainly krill which may explain why their droppings are often red in colour. The species is not considered under threat, in fact the numbers appear to be increasing.

These pictures were taken by Jan Dixon in 2009 on Penguin Island (one of the small islands of the South Shetland archipelago). As you will see some are guarding eggs but others have newly hatched chicks.

There is a fascinating story about two Chinstrap Penguins in Central Park Zoo in New York City. In 2004, there were two male penguins named Roy and Silo who were always seen together and spent much time taking turns to 'hatch' a chick from an egg sized rock. A keeper decided to substitute a fertile egg which the pair hatched and subsequently successfully raised a chick.