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the web of life in southern Africa

Spheniscus magellanicus (Magellanic penguin) 

Magellaanse pikkewyn [Afrikaans]; MagelhaenpinguÔn [Dutch]; Manchot de Magellan [French]; Magellan-pinguin [German]; Pinguim de Magalh„es [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Ciconiiformes > Family: Spheniscidae

Spheniscus magellanicus (Magellanic penguin) Spheniscus magellanicus (Magellanic penguin) 

Magellanic penguins, Argentina. [photo Heather Bays ©]

Magellanic penguin, Punta Tombo, Argentina. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds in island colonies from southern South America to the Falkland Islands, while it is a rare vagrant to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha, southern Australia, New Zealand and southern Africa. Here it has been recorded once at Cape Town harbour, Western Cape in 1998, probably because it hitched a ride with a ship that docked there.


It mainly eats pelagic schooling fish, supplemented with crustaceans and squid, diving up to a depth of about 100 m, usually less than 70 m.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.