The chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarcticus) is a species of penguin.
Other common names are “ringed penguin”, “bearded penguin”, and “stonecracker penguin” due to its loud, harsh call.
This species live on large icebergs in the open ocean and on the islands and shores of the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic regions.
The average lifespan of a chinstrap penguin is 15 to 20 years in the wild.
Chinstrap penguins are medium-sized penguins. They have an average body length of 72 cm (28 in) and a weight of 3–5 kg (6.6–11.0 lb), but their weight can drop as low as 3 kg (6.6 lb) depending on the breeding cycle. Males are both larger and heavier than females.
This species of penguin is characterized by a cap of black plumage on the top of the head, a white face, and a fine, continuous band of black feathers that extends from one side of the head to the other across each cheek and under the chin.
The white and black plumage serves as camouflage to predators, with the white appearing to aquatic predators from below and the black appearing to aerial predators from above.
Chinstrap penguins are among the few animals that can survive the incredibly harsh climate of the Antarctic, and do so in part because of their physical adaptations. Their heavily-insulated, torpedo-shaped bodies help them avoid the cold and travel through the water and over the ice.
The chinstrap penguin’s tightly packed feathers provide a waterproof coat, enabling it to swim in freezing waters. Additionally, thick blubber deposits and intricate blood vessels in the flippers and legs assist in the preservation of heat.
Chinstraps can reach depths of 70 meters (230 feet), but most dives are less than 45 meters (148 feet). Most dives last between 20-30 seconds.
The diet of the chinstrap penguin consists of fish, krill, shrimp, and squid which they swim up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) offshore each day to obtain.
Chinstrap penguins are the most numerous penguins in the world. It is estimated there are 12 to 15 million of these flightless birds.
Chinstrap Penguins live and breed in large colonies.
Penguins in general communicate through complex ritual behaviors that include head and flipper waving, calling, bowing, gesturing and preening. Stares, pointing and even charging occur when the Chinstraps have territorial disputes.
They build circular nests from stones, and lay two eggs, which are incubated by both the male and the female for shifts of around 6 days each. The chicks hatch after around 37 days, and have fluffy gray backs and white fronts. The chicks stay in the nest for 20–30 days before they go to join other chicks in a crèche. At around 50–60 days old, they moult, gaining their adult feathers and go to sea.
Chinstrap penguins are one of the most aggressive species of penguin.
Its name “chinstrap penguin” derives from the narrow black band under its head which makes it appear as if it were wearing a black helmet, making it one of the most easily identified types of penguin.
Since 1988 the chinstrap penguin has been listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species because of its high numbers and its extremely large geographic range.