lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

R is for Rockhopper Penguin

Rockhopper penguins are not like other penguins – they live on rocky, inhospitable places, mainly around the antarctic, so inhospitable these penguins have no land predators. Here is a wonderful picture of one by Robert Orr:

Robert Orr, rockhopper penguin

As well as being the kookiest-looking penguin, their behaviour is different. They do not slide around the place on icy floes, and neither do they do the famous penguin waddle – they BOUND around the rocky outcrops they live on, on their pink feet.

What is more, although they live and nest together in large, noisy colonies, they show none of the cooperation evident in other penguin species – they are quite aggressive with each other and will peck at anything at all that comes near them. But they are gentle with their partners.

They are small penguins, about 50 cm tall, and return to the same nesting places, and nests, and usually the same partner year after year – perhaps having fought for the right mate, they like to keep them!

Like all penguins they swim brilliantly, usually in the shallow seas around their home – but they can dive quite deeply to get their food of krill, squid and small fish (although they are happy to eat anything if food is scarce). However, out in the sea they are prey for seals and sharks.

They were the among the most numerous of penguins – but scientists estimate that their population has declined over the last 30 years by 30%, Eastern rockhoppers possibly due to commercial overfishing and pollution, Northern rockhoppers definitely due to fishing with gill-nets, and egging. Now the Southern rockhopper has been classed as Vulnerable, and the Northern rockhopper classed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Here’s their poem (title courtesy of Durbad @


Rock Star


We’re black

and white,

red eyes and bill,


punk rock

crests in



we hop

on rock,

a pink-foot bound,


we’re not

the sort

to slide around,


we dive,

and fish,

which we defend,


and quarrel

with our

penguin friends,


we used

to be

a noisy throng,


now we’re


going… gone?


© Liz Brownlee


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Information from:


International Penguin Conservation Work Group.


Photo by Robert Orr by Creative Commons License.

Prose and Poem © Liz Brownlee, all rights reserved not to be used in any manner whatsoever without the permission of the author.




  1. I love penguins, and think Rockhoppers are really cute – certainly different to other species of penguins.

    Several years ago, while in South Africa, I went to a beach near Cape Town where there was a colony of Jackass penguins – though they weren’t tame it was quite common for one or two to wander across the end of our towels while we were sunbathing, and they were quite happy to share their bit of sea with us when we went swimming 🙂


    • Wow, that would be fun! I wonder if they police the holiday makers to make sure they aren’t encroaching on penguin territory?


      • It’s a managed colony Liz, and part of the beach area is classed as a reserve. The upper areas of the dunes, where the penguins mainly nest and burrow, is fenced off and visitors have to stay on the boardwalks, but once on the beach you can wander, swim and sunbathe wherever you want and the penguins don’t seem to mind. It’s a beautiful place, and swimming in a warm sea surrounded by penguins is a really fab experience 🙂


      • What a wonderful experience that must have been! You’d have to have some goggles to watch them underwater – and make sure you’ve left your fish fingers at home…


  2. They look like they were designed by Bob Mackie:) what a shame that they are threatened and your poem is so eloquent. I hope they won’t be gone.


  3. Rockhoppers are a favorite at the New England Aquarium. Thanks for posting!


  4. That face looks quite fierce so I can believe they are aggressive to all but their partners. Lovely creatures though. 🙂


    • They are gorgeous. I’ve never seen a soft toy one, though!


  5. Just look at this guy! So much personality. Like a rockstar!


    • Absolutely! He IS a rockstar! In fact, might make that the title of the poem…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a fabulous penguin, Liz. Your poem is brilliant – that last line made me go cold!


  7. I adore them, and how you rhymed “daffodil” shows true skill. Much enjoyed.


  8. Adorable little punks! Thanks for the education and the poem.


  9. What a face! And another great poem.


    • Thanks! Isn’t it great! I wish my hair would look so attractive…


  10. Rockhopper for sure.
    Melanie Schulz from


  11. Great poem! Someone should put it to rock music 🙂 When I was little, I loved watching nature videos of hopping penguins 🙂

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary


    • Did you! I don’t recall seeing any – the first animal I fell in love with was my teddy, panda, and then a picture of a hedgehog with its arms up for a cuddle, it was crying, in a children’s book. I can still see that hedgehog as clear as day.


  12. Funny looking 😉


  13. I love that face!


    • Ah, another reason to love frogs – they have such dear little faces!


  14. Penguins and frogs… add guinea pigs and dragonflies and my natural history obsessions would be complete. Love penguins. Love rockhoppers, love your poem ❤
    Jemima Pett

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, well did dragonfly another year… but no guinea pigs, although plenty of rodents…. could do capybara one year!

      Liked by 1 person

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