The reserve of Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus)
at Punta Tombo is one of the biggest reproduction colonies
in Argentina, with a population that reaches 175,000
couples. Here, the penguins are in their reproductive
season between the months of September and April, during
which time the reserve can be reached. The rest of the
year it remains closed, precisely when the penguins
are in their feeding areas, in the open sea, along the
coast of the Patagonian Sea and the South of Brazil.
The penguin reserve has paths from which the penguins
can be observed while they are nesting or walking from
and towards the sea. This reserve has the peculiarity
of being located on a red rocky coast with soft hills
that roll into the sea, which gives it a unique beauty
and distinguishes it greatly from the landscape of Península
Valdés. Within the protected area, there are
sites for tourist visits as well as off-limit areas
in which control and research activities are performed.
The Magellanic penguins return to the colony to nest
in September. At that time, the first animals and their
mates can be seen as they look and compete for their
nests. Eggs are laid in October, when almost all the
animals are observed to be in their nests, alone or
with their mates. Most of the couples lay two eggs,
some lay one or three eggs. The little fledglings become
independent and migrate in March. The eggs begin to
hatch in November and end by mid December, which means
a caring time of 40 days for each couple.
During the incubation period, the parents take turns
looking after the nest. Their trips last two weeks at
the beginning, but they become shorter as the birth
gets closer. When the chicks are born and they need
to be looked after, the feeding trips last less, 1 to
2 days, and the father and mother always take turns.
In Punta Tombo, the chicks stay in the nests between
20 and 25 days alone and then form groups of chicks
(créches). The spectacle of chicks moving in
March is amazing, since thousands of animals can be
observed on the coast, very close to the sea.