Spheniscus humboldti 

Scope: Global

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Sphenisciformes Spheniscidae

Scientific Name: Spheniscus humboldti
Species Authority: Meyen, 1834
Common Name(s):
English Humboldt Penguin, Peruvian Penguin
Spanish Pingüino de Humboldt
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.
Identification information: 65 cm. Medium-sized, black-and-white penguin. Black head with white border extending from eye around ear-coverts and chin, and joining on throat. Blackish-grey upperparts. Whitish underparts with black breast-band extending down flanks to thigh. Fleshy-pink base to bill. Juvenile has wholly dark head (greyer on sides and chin) and lacks breast-band. Similar spp. Magellanic Penguin S. magellanicus has broader white stripe on head and has more than one breast-band.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2bcde+3bcde+4bcde;C1+2b ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Knauf, G., Majluf, P., Roca, M. & Valqui, T.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Capper, D., Clay, R., Hatchett, J., Lascelles, B.
This species has undergone extreme population size fluctuations, (close to one order of magnitude) at major colonies in Chile. However, an overall reduction in the number of breeding colonies indicates that there is probably an ongoing, underlying rapid decline in numbers. It consequently qualifies as Vulnerable.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Spheniscus humboldti occurs in coastal Peru and Chile with vagrants recorded north to Colombia (Morales Sanchez 1988). It has been declining since the mid-19th century, but the 1982-1983 El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) reduced the population from 19,000-21,000 birds to 5,180-6,080 (Hays 1984, Hays 1986, Ellis et al. 1998). By 1995-1996, this had increased to 10,000-12,000 birds (Cheney 1998). The 1997-1998 ENSO resulted in further declines to 3,300 birds (P. Majluf in litt. 1999). In Peru, the number of colonies declined from 17 in 1981 to two in 1996 (Ellis et al. 1998), but had recovered to six by 1999 (T. Valqui in litt. 1999). In 2000, 78% of the total Peruvian population of 4,425 birds was clustered in just five colonies (Paredes et al. 2003). A survey in 2004 estimated a total population of around 5,000 individuals, with birds present at 21 sites, 16 of which were considered breeding sites, although only 6 of these held more than 200 birds (American Bird Conservancy in litt. 2007). The size and distribution of colonies in Peru changed considerably during the period 1984-1999, with proportionally more on the southern coast and fewer in the north and central coastal areas in 1999 (Paredes et al. 2003). In Chile, it has bred at 14 sites, but at only 10 recently (Ellis et al. 1998). Surveys in 2002 found nesting at 9 islands, with a total population of 9,000 pairs, 7,000 of which were at Chañaral Island. A repeat visit to Chañaral in 2003 recorded 20,000 individuals, mostly moulting (Ayala et al. 2007). In 1998, a population and habitat viability analysis suggested that extinction was likely within 100 years (Cheney 1998).

Countries occurrence:
Chile; Peru
Colombia; Ecuador
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):YesEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:73300
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:20Continuing decline in number of locations:Yes
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:Yes
Upper elevation limit (metres):70
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The population estimate of 3,300-12,000 individuals is derived from P. Majluf in litt. (1999). In light of this it is best placed in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals.

Trend Justification:  Based on analysis of data in Ellis et al. (1998), Hays (1984, 1986) and from P. Majluf in litt. (1999).

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:2500-9999Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:YesPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:2-100Continuing decline in subpopulations:Yes
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:YesAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Breeding site It nests on islands and rocky coastal stretches, burrowing holes in guano and occasionally using scrape nests or caves (Cheney 1998, Ellis et al. 1998). It apparently prefers to breed on slopes at high elevation sites where guano deposits are available for burrow excavation (Paredes and Zavalaga 2001). Reproductive behaviour Breeding occurs year-round, but has two peaks, in May and July and from September to December. Reproductive success is reported as low, especially in Chile (Cheney 1998), though considerably higher at one rookery in Peru (Punta San Juan) (Paredes and Zavalaga 2001). Migratory range There may be an extended migration route of c.700 km from Peru to north Chile, and adult birds regularly disperse up to 170 km in Peru and occasionally over 600 km (Culik and Luna-Jorquera 1997, Wallace et al. 1999). Diet It feeds on schooling anchoveta Engraulis ringens, squid and other small fish, mainly caught in inshore waters, with failed breeders travelling further afield, as do breeders during ENSO years (Taylor et al. 2004). Foraging range Humboldt Penguins are central place foragers during the breeding season, since they must return to their nests between foraging trips. As a pelagic predator, the Humboldt Penguin is highly dependent on predictable food resources in coastal waters near its nesting sites (Taylor et al. 2001). It typically makes short, shallow dives within 30 m of the surface (Taylor et al. 2001). At Isla Pan de Azúcar, Chile, it was found that maximum dive depth was 53 m. Mean distance travelled during foraging trips was 26.5 km, with a minimum and maximum distance of 8.1 and 68.7 km respectively. 90% of the birds remained within 35 km of their breeding colony (Culik et al. 1998, Luna-Jorquera and Culik 1999). At Punta San Juan, Peru, the average maximum distance from the colony of all foraging trips was 19.8 km (Boersma et al. 2006). Following breeding failure, non-breeding birds take longer foraging trips, make deeper and longer dives and dive less often per hour at sea than do breeding birds (Taylor et al. 2002). Mean and maximum foraging trip duration were both significantly longer in failed breeders than in breeding birds (Taylor et al. 2004).

Systems:Terrestrial; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):10.6
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The primary threats for this species are mortality caused by entanglement in artisanal fishery nets, illegal capture for consumption and the pet trade (American Bird Conservancy in litt. 2007). Historical declines resulted from over-exploitation of guano (Williams, T. D. 1995). Guano is still harvested in Peru, and likely limits the availability of preferred nesting habitat (Paredes and Zavalaga 2001). Severe fluctuations in numbers are caused by (apparently increasing) ENSO events, and more recent underlying declines probably relate to over-fishing of anchoveta Engraulis spp. stocks (Williams, T. D. 1995, Cheney 1998, Wallace et al. 1999). Other threats include capture for use as fish bait, use of explosives by fishermen, mining activities, human disturbance, predation by Andean fox, rats and cats, and marine pollution (Cheney 1998, Ellis et al. 1998, Ayala et al. 2007). One of the major breeding sites in northern Chile is currently threatened by the construction of two coal-fired power stations (G. Knauf in litt. 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. CMS Appendix I. In Chile there is a 30-year moratorium (from 1995) on hunting and capture, and the four major colonies (not including intertidal and marine areas) are protected (Vilina et al. 1995, Cheney 1998). In Peru, 12 of the principal colonies are legally protected by the government institute managing guano extraction (American Bird Conservancy in litt. 2007). There are walls and guards at some sites, and extraction is designed to have a minimal impact at Punta San Juan (Cheney 1998, P. Majluf in litt. 1999). Campaigning has prevented the construction of one coal mine at Punta Choros, though two more may still be built (G. Knauf in litt. 2009).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor the population throughout its breeding range (Ellis et al. 1998). Protect breeding sites and regulate guano harvesting (Ellis et al. 1998). Create marine reserves around colonies (Ellis et al. 1998). Establish awareness programmes around key colonies to reduce hunting and bycatch (Ellis et al. 1998, American Bird Conservancy in litt. 2007). Reduce fish harvests around major colonies (American Bird Conservancy in litt. 2007) and elsewhere during ENSO events (Ellis et al. 1998). Improve waste treatment in coastal regions (Ellis et al. 1998).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2013. Spheniscus humboldti. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T22697817A50410743. . Downloaded on 26 October 2016.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided