Author: M. Murphy from Wikimedia Commons
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Penguins are one of the most beloved animals in the world. Penguins are found in many areas in the southern hemisphere. Most people think of penguins as living in very cold climates like the icy continent of Antarctica, but they also live in more temperate areas like the Galapagos Islands, Australia, and South Africa.
Penguins are very funny animals. They are birds that cannot fly, but love to swim! A typical penguin can spend at least half of its time swimming in the water.
Penguins Don't Fly, They Swim
Penguins love to swim in the ice cold ocean water. They can swim very fast and can leap out of the water and dive deep looking for food. A layer of fat together with a layer of air keeps penguins warm in the cold water and almost any weather.
Types of Penguins
The yellow-eyed Penguin
Author: Bernard Spragg
There are several different types of penguins including the Rockhopper, Macaroni, Adelie, Gentoo, Chinstrap, Emperor, King, and the Little Penguin. You can tell these different types of penguins apart by the unique markings on their heads. Perhaps the Macaroni penguin has the most unusual of these markings as it has long orange feathers right on top of its head. The largest of the penguins is the Emperor penguin which is over three feet tall.
Here is a brief description of some of the different types of penguins:
What do they look like?
- Adelie Penguin - This penguin is short, but wide. This makes it look a bit overweight. It lives in the Antarctic in large colonies.
- Emperor Penguin - This is the largest of the penguins growing to over 3 feet tall. They live in Antarctica.
- King Penguin - The second largest penguin, the King lives in the Antarctic as well as the Falkland Islands, Australia, and New Zealand.
- Galapagos Penguin - One of the smallest penguins at only 20 inches tall and 5 pounds fully grown, it lives on the Galapagos Islands.
- Macaroni Penguin - This penguin is famous for its long orange feathers on top of its head. They grow to about 28 inches tall and 11 pounds. They live in the cooler areas like the Antarctic.
- Rockhopper Penguin - Found in the Antarctic, this crested penguin has different colored feathers on its head. It is small, typically weighing around 5 pounds fully grown.
Penguins all have a similar shape. On land they can waddle along on their hind feet or slide quickly on the ice on their stomachs. All Penguins are mostly black and white in coloring, which provides an excellent camouflage in the water. When swimming in the ocean, their white stomachs make them hard to see from below as they blend into the sky and sunlight above. Likewise, their black backs help disguise them from above as they are hard to see against the water and the dark ocean bed.
What do they eat?
Penguins mostly eat fish. What types of fish they eat can depend on where they live. They also eat krill, squid, crustaceans, and octopus.
Some penguins mate for life, while others mate for a season. At spring they return to the same place every year and lay eggs. Sometimes there will be thousands of penguins at the same place. Each parent penguin takes a turn sitting on the egg, or eggs, to keep them warm. They also stay close to the eggs and newborn chicks to protect them from predators. While one parent watches over the chick, the other parent will get food and store it in its mouth to feed the chick. The chicks are often easy to pick out as they are brown and fluffy.
Cool Facts About Penguins
- They can drink saltwater.
- The emperor penguin can dive up to 1800 feet deep and stay under water for over 20 minutes.
- Penguins can swim as fast as 16 MPH.
- Penguins have excellent eyesight and hearing.
- Some penguins sleep standing up.
Lifecycle of the Emperor Penguin
Author: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation
For more about birds:
Blue and Yellow Macaw - Colorful and chatty bird
Bald Eagle - Symbol of the United States
Cardinals - Beautiful red birds you can find in your backyard.
Flamingo - Elegant pink bird
Mallard Ducks - Learn about this awesome Duck!
Ostriches - The biggest birds don't fly, but man are they fast.
Penguins - Birds that swim
Red-tailed Hawk - Raptor
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