Wild Birds

Southern Rockhopper Penguins

Southern Rockhopper Penguin or just Rockhopper Penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome)

The Southern Rockhopper Penguin or just Rockhopper Penguin, Eudyptes chrysocome, is a species of penguin closely related to the Macaroni Penguin.

Southern Rockhopper Penguins on a Rocks
Southern Rockhopper Penguins on a Rocks

Appearance and ecology

This is the smallest yellow-crested, black-and-white penguin, reaching a length of 55 cm (22 in) and having an average weight of 3.35 kg (7.4 lbs). It has slate-grey upperparts and a straight, bright yellow eyebrow ending in long yellowish plumes projecting sideways behind a red eye.

It breeds in colonies, from sea-level to cliff-tops, and sometimes inland. It feeds on krill, squid, octopus, fish, mollusks, plankton, cuttlefish, and crustaceans.

Rockhopper Penguins have a global population of about 3.5 million pairs. The nominate subspecies chrysocome breeds on the Falkland Islands, and on islands off Argentina and southern Chile.

The subspecies moseleyi, possibly a distinct species (such as Northern Rockhopper Penguin, E. moseleyi) breeds on islands in Tristan da Cunha, Amsterdam, and St Paul Islands.

The subspecies filholi breeds on the Prince Edward Islands, the Crozet Islands, the Kerguelen Islands, Heard Island, Macquarie Island, Campbell Island, New Zealand, and the Antipodes Islands.

A Close Up of Southern Rockhopper Penguin
A Close Up of Southern Rockhopper Penguin


The status of this species is vulnerable due to a fall of 24% in its population in the last thirty years.


As their name suggests, they spend their time hopping over rocks, and the explorers who discovered them were amused to see this.

The scientific name for the Rockhopper Penguin is sometimes given as Eudyptes crestatus, or Eudyptes Californfalkinalber.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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