Species Data

Class: Aves

Order: Sphenisciformes

Family: Spheniscidae

Scientific Name: Spheniscus magellanicus

IUCN Red List status: Near Threatened

IUCN Species Range Map



The Magellanic Penguin is named after Ferdinand Magellan who saw the bird in 1519 on his first voyage around the tip of South America. These penguins are 70cm tall and weigh approximately 4kg. Their black and white feathering is very dense, more than 70 feathers per square inch, with a waterproof coating of oil that keeps them warm.

Their “tuxedo” helps the bird hide from predators when swimming in the ocean. The white belly blends in with the bright light coming from above, making the bird hard for seals to spot and from above the dark back blends in with the dark ocean below.




Magellanic Penguins come on shore to breed, nesting under bushes or burrows under rocks. They lay two eggs on average and both parents raise the fluffy grey chicks until they moult and are able to go to sea and hunt for themselves.

Magellanic Penguin
Patagonia shore Emma Page 2004


Magellanic Penguins inhabit the rocky shores of the Falklands, Argentina and Chile. When offshore, they will dive to depths as great as 100 m and forage over hundreds of kilometres.


Threats and Conservation

The birds face threats from oil spills, from getting entangled in fishing nets and from the over fishing of their habitat, which reduces their food supply of squid and small fish. Magellanic penguins also lose burrows during mining for guano (bird droppings).


Protected by the following WLT Projects