Communication and Perception
Magellanic penguins perform a variety of vocalizations and are able to discriminate between conspecific calls. Such calls include ecstatic display calls, mutual display calls, fight calls and contact calls. Males perform ecstatic display calls in the beginning of breeding season to attract a mate and during altercations with other males. These calls are described as "braying" for their similarity to the calls of donkeys. Both males and females use a mutual display call when they meet at their nest in the beginning of the breeding season and when they switch duties during incubation. Females respond more strongly to their mates' calls than to other male calls. The females stand up, look around and sometimes call back. Chicks can also discriminate between their parents' mutual calls and the mutual calls of another set of parents.
Mated pairs also use tactile and visual displays to communicate with each other and strengthen their bond. To show interest in a female, the male will walk circles around a potential mate and then pat her rapidly with his flippers. A mated pair will remain together for many years, and often perform mutual preening to uphold their bond.
Studies have suggested that penguins, in general, rely heavily upon their sense of sight to obtain food and navigate underwater. It has been suggested that these birds can see at least a portion of the ultraviolet spectrum. Study of the retina has also revealed that it lacks the ability to perceive the color red, and that they are very adept at perceiving blue or green spectra. This likely is connected to the fact that in the deep ocean, there is an abundance of blue and green coloration while red is rather rare. It has also been suggested that penguins' eyes are specially adapted to aquatic environments, as they share similar sensitivities with the eyes of fish.
Like most birds, Magellanic penguins perceive their environments through visual, tactile, auditory and chemical stimuli.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic
Perception Channels: ultraviolet
- Clark, J., P. Boersma, D. Olmsted. 2006. Name that tune: call discrimination and individual recognition in Magellanic penguins. Animal Behvaiour, 72: 1114-1148. Accessed February 24, 2011 at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6W9W-4KXVD2D-1&_user=1086025&_coverDate=11%2F30%2F2006&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000051441&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1086025&md5=bea9b388a03557e6644833079c2f41ac&searchtype=a.
- Martin, G. 1985. Through a penguin's eye. New Scientist, 105/1447: 29-31.