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King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus


King Penguins are circumpolar birds of the subantarctic zone; although largely absent from the eastern Pacific. They are fish eaters, and tend to keep north of the ice pack, replacing the related Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) in these lower latitudes. The King Penguin breeds in huge numbers on South Georgia, and in lesser numbers in the Falklands but until recently no nesting has been detected on South America itself. Annually single King Penguins show up in the far south of South America to molt. Yet recently evidence suggests a small colony may be setting up in southernmost Chile, although the details are not clear as of yet. The King Penguin is a large bird, but smaller and slimmer than the Emperor Penguin. On the other hand the King is the brighter plumaged and more ornate of the two species, showing a gorgeous orange neck patch that extends to the upper breast. As well the back is a grizzled blue-grey, contrasting with a black head, and white underparts. In the large colonies of this species the sounds are amazing, a wheezing voice overwhelms along with the gorgeous black and orange of the penguin faces. The pairs display by tilting their orange and black bills in the air as they call. Youngsters are quite different, they are big brown balls of fluff which eventually become as big as the adults and join together in groups as they await the return of adults with food.

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© Maurice A. E. Rumboll

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: