Everybody knows what kind of bird is a penguin and they also know what one looks like. People can get a look at penguins in aquariums, marine parks, and zoos. However, do you know what makes penguins stand out from all other birds?
- Altogether there are 18 penguin species among which 13 are considered to be declining and 5 are endangered.
- Mostly these birds are found in the Southern Hemisphere but they can also be located in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and South America. Penguins have also been seen on various small islands in the southern Pacific Ocean and of course, in captivity, they can be seen anywhere in the world.
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- The most northern penguin species is known as the Galapagos penguin. These penguins live on the Galapagos Islands.
- Amazingly enough many millions of years ago penguins lost their ability to fly but instead, their most powerful flippers and fit bodies have made them very good swimmers. Among other bird species, penguins can swim the fastest and can dive the deepest.
- Counter shading is the term used for the penguin light front and dark back plumage and helps to keep them camouflaged in water.
- Penguins are carnivores and get all of their food from the sea. They eat a variety of marine animals including shrimp, fish, and squid. Those penguins which eat only fish are known as piscivorous.
- Being underwater is great for penguins as they can see better than they can on land.
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- The largest penguin species is the Emperor penguin and it can weigh as much as 90 pounds and the smallest of penguin species is the Fairy penguin weighing in at only 2 pounds.
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- The rarest penguin species is the yellow-eyed penguin and only about 5,000 of these survive in the wild and can only be found on the southeastern coast of New Zealand and nearby islands.
- Penguins are very sociable creatures and form breeding colonies which consist of tens of thousands of penguins. The parents and chicks have superb hearing and can keep track of one another even with a large crowd surrounding them.
- Two penguin species the Emperor and the King don’t make nests. When there is a single egg it is incubated on the parent’s feet and is kept warm under a flap of skin which is known as a brood pouch. The incubation takes from 8-10 weeks and happens in the winter.
- It is the Emperor penguin males who incubate the eggs for up to two months in the winter without eating while the females are at sea. It is during this time that the male penguins live off of their fat reserves and lose up to half of their body weight. The females return after the chicks are hatched and then fast while the males go to sea to replenish their fat stores.
- A penguin in the wild can live from 16-20 years and spend up to 75% of that time at sea.