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Humboldt Penguin
Similar Birds:
 African Penguin
 Magellanic Penguin
 Galapagos Penguin

Humboldt Penguin
Photographer: Christian Mehlführer

Humboldt Penguin

Humboldt Penguin Range Map (South America)
Humboldt Penguin Range Map (South America)
Latin Name Spheniscus humboldti
Conservation Status Vulnerable
Location South America
Colour Black/Grey & White
Height 56 - 66 cms (22 - 26 inches)
Weight 4.5 - 5 Kgs (10 - 11 lbs)
Life Expectancy 15 - 20 Yrs (Wild)
Up to 30 Yrs (in Captivity)

Main Characteristics

Humboldt Penguins are between 56 and 66 cms (22 - 26 inches) in height and they weigh between 4.5 and 5 kgs (10 - 11 lbs). They are coloured black/dark grey on their back and white on their front. They have a distinctive, black, horseshoe shaped band on their front and a white stripe on their head.

Their legs and feet are black and their feet are webbed with claws on their toes to assist them when climbing over rocks. Their beak is black and it has a fleshy, pink base.

They have two layers of feathers; a down layer for insulation and a top layer that is flat and waterproof that prevents water from reaching their body. They regularly preen their feathers to keep them in good condition. They moult between July and September and this takes approximately 10 days.

Like most penguins, Humboldt Penguins are able to drink salt water due to their supraorbital gland which filters excess salt from their bloodstream by way of a capillary just above the penguins eyes. The excess salt is then expelled through the penguin's nose in a salty brine.

Humboldt Penguins are agile swimmers and they can reach speeds up to 32 km/hr (20 mph). They have excellent eyesight both underwater and on land.


Humboldt Penguins are found around the coast of Chile and Peru. They spend most of their time at sea but when they come ashore to breed they form large colonies.


Humboldt Penguins mainly feed on fish such as anchovies and sardines. They hunt in groups in shallow water, circling around their prey then attacking from the side.


Humboldt Penguins breed throughout the year. The male prepares the nest in an underground burrow, cave or rock crevice and the female arrives at the nesting site a few days later. Two eggs are laid which are incubated for approximately 39 days.

The chicks are looked after by both parents until they gain their adult plumage at 70 - 90 days old, then they venture into the sea and become independent. They reach sexual maturity at 3 years of age.


Predators of adult Humboldt Penguins include humans, leopard seals, sharks, killer whales, fur seals and sea lions. Eggs and chicks fall prey to snakes, foxes, cats and dogs.


There are no subspecies of the Humboldt Penguin.

Interesting Facts

Humboldt Penguins are also known as:
Peruvian Penguin

The Humboldt Penguin is named after the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt

The current population of Humboldt Penguins is estimated to be between 3,300 and 12,000 individuals.

The closest relatives of the Humboldt Penguin are: African Penguin
Magellanic Penguin
Galapagos Penguin

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