Family Penguins (Spheniscidae)


African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus)


French: Manchot du Cap German: Brillenpinguin Spanish: Pingüino de El Cabo
Other common names: Jackass Penguin

Diomedea demersa


, 1758,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


Closely related to S. magellanicus and S. humboldti. Monotypic.


South Africa and Namibia.

Descriptive notes

60–70 cm; 2·1–3·7 kg. Adult Adult calling has upperparts entirely black or blackish, this extending narrowly to axillary region, and often has a... read more


Loud braying calls, especially at night.


Marine. Nests on inshore islands, preferably flat, sandy ones with at least some vegetation,... read more

Food and feeding

Pelagic schooling fish, normally 50–120 mm (extremes 10–310 mm) in length; important prey species include southern African... read more


Breeding recorded in all months, with local variations; peak laying in Nov–Jan in NW of range, May–Jul in SW and Apr–Jun... read more


Adults sedentary. Pre-moult period at sea 35 days; birds remain at sea for 4 months, after... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. CITES II. Uncommon and very local; declining. Global population in 2009 put at only 25,262 pairs, of which c. 20,699 in South Africa and remaining 4563 in Namibia... read more

Recommended citation

Martínez, I., Christie, D.A., Jutglar, F. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 January 2019).