Penguins, Predators and Prey is a series of stamp issues depicting each of the familiar Falkland penguins, together with some of their respective predators and prey. This issue features the Macaroni Penguin.
The Macaroni Penguin Eudyptes chrysolophus is one of the five species which breed in the Falkland Islands. They can reach 70cm in height and weigh 5.5 kilos on average. The males, though similar in appearance, are slightly larger than the females, with a slightly larger bill.
Macaroni Penguins are the most numerous penguin species in the world, with some 18 million worldwide. However, in the Falkland Islands they are few. They nest and breed within Southern Rockhopper Penguin rookeries and some hybridisation has been observed between the two species. They moult once a year at the end of summer before returning to sea for up to 6 months.
German naturalist, Johann Friedrich von Brandt, was the first to describe the species in 1837 from the Falkland Islands. The common name, Macaroni, was also first given in the Islands by English sailors during the 19th Century, likening the birds with their grand crests to an 18th Century trend called “macaroni”; defined by excessive and garish ornamentation.
Macaroni Penguins, part of the genus Eudyptes (crested penguins) are most closely related to the Royal Penguin, which is thought of by some as a sub species of the Macaroni.
The cover illustration shows a Macaroni Penguin swimming along the surface. All penguins are flightless seabirds and hunt for food under the waves. Their bodies are heavy but muscular and acrobatic and their wing bones are fused together as wings take on the role of paddles. Their tails act as rudders to steer them through the water.
31p Macaroni Penguin Eudyptes chrysolophus on a nest
In the Falklands, Macaroni penguins breed among Southern Rockhoppers in multi-species colonies which also often include Imperial Shags. Nests are typically a shallow dip in the ground lined by a circular mound with rocks and grass and are densely packed within a rookery. Breeding age begins at around 5-6 years, however some females can delay this until 8 years of age. Breeding takes place in late October with laying in November. They typically lay two eggs, however the first is usually smaller and very unlikely to survive.
76p Euphausiid Krill Euphausia vallentini
Macaroni penguins have a varied diet feeding mainly on Euphausiid Krill, small fish and cephalopods. During the breeding season krill accounts for a high proportion of their diet, whereas during other seasons there is more demand on small fish and cephalopods. Macaroni penguins are known to deliberately swallow small stones; it is thought that this could be in order to grind food (particularly crustacean exoskeletons) or to provide ballast for deep sea diving. They regularly dive, during daylight hours, between 15 and 70 metres in depth and have been recorded diving to as much as 100 metres down. Macaroni penguins consume more sea creatures than any other seabird, polishing off over 9 million tonnes of krill annually. Euphausia vallentini is the main krill consumed by the Macaroni in Falklands waters. Adults are typically 13 – 28 millimetres in length. Penguins feeding further South would also encounter the larger Antarctic Krill (Euphausia superba).
£1.01 Southern Sea Lion Otaria flavescens
Macaroni penguins encounter a number of predators at sea in the Falklands such as leopard seals and orcas. They also face predation of chicks and eggs by avian predators such as caracaras, gulls and skuas. Bull Sea Lions are capable of taking Macaroni Penguins in the Falkland Islands as they do with the other penguin species. When taken by a Sea Lion, penguins are submitted to being forcibly shaken and ripped apart. Bull Sea Lions have been seen killing penguins more for sport than for food, leaving the carcasses to be eaten by scavengers.
£1.22 Macaroni Penguins Eudyptes chrysolophus displaying
Breeding Macaroni Penguins are often seen bowing forwards, stretching their heads upwards and braying in what is termed the “ecstatic” display. Males will perform this in the spring to advertise their presence to a returning partner or when finding a new mate. Once paired up, a male and female will often display simultaneously to strengthen the bond between them. Each bird sings loudly while they perform. These rituals convey territorial, sexual and identification information both to each other and to other members of the colony. They are often enacted as a pair bonding exercise along with mutual preening. Such displays continue throughout the breeding season and in particular in the evening when the adults return to the nest from the sea.
Text by Vicky Chater.
Artist: Vicky Chater
Printer: Cartor Security Printing
Process: Stochastic Lithography
Perforation: 13 x 13 ¼ per 2cms
Stamp size: 30.6 x 38mm
Sheet Layout: 50 (2 x 25)
Release date: 18 April, 2018
Production Co-ordination: Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd