Rockhopper Penguin

Rockhopper penguins are three closely related taxa of crested penguins that have been traditionally treated as a single species and are sometimes split into three species.

Not all experts agree on the classification of these penguins. Some consider all three as distinct species, some split the western and eastern forms into the southern rockhopper penguin and keep the northern rockhopper as distinct, while other experts consider all three potential varieties to be one species.

Rockhopper penguins are among the smaller species of penguin. After reaching full growth, they are about 20 inches in height. Males and females cannot be distinguished visually, so a DNA test is conducted by taking a feather from the bird to determine its gender.

Like many penguins, rockhopper penguins have a white belly and the rest of their body is black. Some characteristics that differentiate them from the other penguins are their red eyes, orange beak, pink webbed feet, and the yellow and black spiky feathers they have on their head.

Although their yellow and black spiky feathers differentiate them from other penguins, rockhopper penguin chicks do not have them; these feathers develop with age. Their orange beak is initially black, but as the penguins get older, their beaks turn orange. Due to the harsh rocky environment, they cannot slide on their bellies like most penguins, so they hop to get from one place to another.