Crested penguins

November 26, 2011, 2:33 pm
Content Cover Image

Big-crested and Rockhopper penguins. Antique print by Henrik Gronvold

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:--- Chordata
Class:------ Aves (Birds)
Order:-------- Sphenisciformes
Family:-------- Spheniscidae (Penguins)
Genus:--------- Eudyptes (Crested Penguins)
Species:-------- Six species

The Crested penguins (scientific name: Eudyptes) are a genus of six penguin species within the penguin family of seventeen species:

Like all penguins, Crested penguins are characterized by their erect posture, stiff wings, excellent swimming ability, awkward movement out of the sea, and distinctive coloring.The black backs and white fronts, make all penguins difficult to see when swimming, blending against the sea from above and the sky from below.

Notable features

Crested penguins are notable in several ways:

  • Heads are adorned with bright feather plumes (which leads to the genus common name)
  • Have red bills (and some have red eyes)
  • All are migratory
  • Lay two eggs but raise only a single chick (usually from the second, larger egg)
  • Male and female share the task of incubating the eggs
  • Male broods the chick for about three weeks after hatching, while the female provides food


Crested penguins are found throughout the sub-Antarctic south to the northern edge of the Antarctic. Macaroni penguins are particularly well spread. Some species are very localized. The Royal penguin, for example, only breeds on the Macquarie Island.        

  • Macaroni, Southern Rockhopper 
  • Falkland Islands  
  • Macaroni, Southern Rockhopper
  • Tristan da Cunha/Gough Island
  • Rockhopper
  • Bouvet Island   
  • Macaroni
  • Prince Edwards Islands/Crozet Islands/Kerguelen Islands/Heard Island/McDonald Island
  • Macaroni, Eastern Rockhopper
  • Amsterdam Island/St. Paul Island
  • Rockhopper    
  • Macquarie Island
  • Eastern Rockhopper, Royal
  • New Zealand    
  • Snares, Fiordland
  • Auckland Islands/Campbell Island
  • Eastern Rockhopper,Big-crested, Yellow-eyed
  • Antipodes Islands/Bounty Islands
  • Eastern Rockhopper,Big-crested
  • Macaroni

Conservation status

The conservation status of all Crested penguins is poor, either threatened or endangered.

Rockhopper Penguin

  - Southern Rockhopper                    

  - Northern Rockhopper




Macaroni Penguin


Fiordland Crested Penguin


Snares Crested Penguin


Royal Penguin


Big-crested Penguin 


Image gallery

caption Rockhopper penguin. Source: Yan Ropert-Coudert/WoRMS/Encyclopedia of Life
caption Macaroni penguin. Source: Yan Ropert-Coudert/WoRMS/Encyclopedia of Life
caption Fiordland crested penguin. Source:Thomas Mattern/Wikipedia
caption Snares crested penguin. Source: Thomas Mattern/Wikipedia
caption Royal penguin. Source Yan Ropert-Coudert/WoRMS/Encyclopedia of Life


Further Reading 

  • Eudyptes Penguinworld.com (accessed March 29, 2009)
  • [www.catalogueoflife.org/annual-checklist/2009/ Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2009 Annual Checklist]. Bisby FA, Roskov YR, Orrell TM, Nicolson D, Paglinawan LE, Bailly N, Kirk PM, Bourgoin T, Baillargeon G., eds (2009),  Species 2000: Reading, UK.


Saundry, P., & Life, E. (2011). Crested penguins. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/151529


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