Penguins



Penguins interesting facts:
- Penguins are shaped like a torpedo.  Their body is built for the most efficient swimming with their average speed in the water being about 15 miles per hour.
- Penguins are birds with black and white feathers and a funny waddle.  Unlike most birds, though, penguins are not able to fly.
- Penguins spend as much as 75% of their time underwater, searching for food in the ocean.  When they are in the water, they dive and flap their wings.  It looks just like they are flying!

- Penguins don't live near freshwater – all fresh water is frozen where they live.  Instead they drink salt water. They have a special gland in their bodies that takes the salt out of the water they drink and pushes it out of grooves in their bill. A handy in-house filtration system!
- Penguins eat seafood. Their main diet is fish, though they'll also eat squid, small shrimplike animals called "krill" and crustaceans.
- Penguins have many natural predators depending on their habitat, including leopard seals, sea lions, orcas, skuas, snakes, sharks and foxes. Artificial threats are also a problem for penguins, including oil spills and other pollution, global warming that changes the distribution of food sources and illegal poaching and egg harvesting. Fortunately, many penguins are receptive to captive breeding programs and those successes can help preserve penguin populations.

- If you look closely at a penguin's bill you'll notice a hook at the end, perfect for grabbing dinner.  Penguins also have backward facing bristles on their tongues that helps slippery seafood from getting away.
- Penguins spend a lot of time dealing with temperature.  They are warm blooded, just like people with a normal body temperature of about 36 degrees C.
- Penguins’ eyes work better underwater than they do on the ground, giving them superior eyesight to spot prey while hunting, even in cloudy, dark or murky water.

- Penguins don't live in the best habitats for finding nesting material, so they have to make do with what they can find.
- Just like whales, penguins have a layer of fat under their skin called "blubber".  Overtop of this they are covered with fluffy "down" feathers and overtop of those they have their outer feathers which overlap to seal in warmth.  Penguins rub oil from a gland onto their feathers to help make them waterproof and windproof.
- Depending on the species, a wild penguin can live about 15-20 years. During that time, they spend up to 75 percent of their lives at sea.

- During the mating season penguins head for special nesting areas on the shore.  The area where penguins mate, nest and raise their chicks is called a "rookery".
- Penguins often leap out of the water.  They do this to get a gulp of air before diving back down for fish.  Penguins cannot breathe underwater, though they are able to hold their breath for a long time.  They also use their ability to leap out of the water to get from the ocean onto land if there are cliffs or ice flows to deal with.
- The emperor penguin is the largest of the penguin species and can weigh up to 90 pounds when mature and not fasting to incubate eggs. The fairy penguin is the smallest and weighs only 2 pounds.

- Some penguins need help to stay warm. It is a common picture to see groups of penguins huddled shoulder to shoulder with their wings tight against their body keeping each other warm.  As many as 5,000 penguins will bunch together to warm each other up.
- Other penguins have overheat problem. For example the Galapagos penguins live in such tropical weather that they get too hot. These penguins spread out their wings and fluff out their feathers to help them cool off.
- Once a penguin finds a mate, they usually stay together for years -- for as long as they have chicks.

- During the mating season penguins head for special nesting areas on the shore. The area where penguins mate, nest and raise their chicks is called a "rookery".
- When the eggs are laid (penguins lay one or two eggs at a time), the female penguin dashes out for dinner, leaving the male to watch the nest.
- Penguins lost the ability to fly millions of years ago, but their powerful flippers and streamlined bodies make them very accomplished swimmers. They are the fastest swimming and deepest diving species of any birds.

- When the chicks hatch, they immediately start calling so that its parents could learn to recognize their voices.
- There are 18 species of penguins in the world. While some species are widespread and thriving, 13 of them have declining populations, and five of them are considered endangered and facing possible extinction if strong protection and conservation measures are not taken.
- All of the penguin species live in the Southern hemisphere. Many live at the South Pole on Antarctica. But some don't live in such cold places. They are found on the coasts of South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Galapagos Islands.

- While the little chicks are still growing there is always one parent staying with them. Once the chicks become strong enough, both parents head for the ocean at the same time. The chicks then are left in a group together (sort of like a kindergarten). When the penguin parents return with dinner they recognize their chicks by their voice.
- Rockhopper penguins build their nests on steep rocky areas. To get there, they hold both feet together and bounce from ledge to ledge. Penguins may bounce up to 5 feet.
- When penguins are ready to mate, the male penguin stands with his back arched and wings stretched. The male then starts making calls and struts about to attract a female.

- When the penguins find a mate, they bond with each other by touching necks and slapping each other on the back with their flippers. Penguins also "sing" to each other so they learn to recognize each other's voices.
- Magellanic penguins dig burrows under the ground to form huge "cities" similar to gophers.
- Adelies and chinstrap penguins use rocks to build their nests. The perfect rock is a rare commodity for these birds. They'll often fight over or steal each other's stones!

- The penguins use camouflage as their protection.  Their white bellies blend with the snow and sunlight making it difficult for an underwater predator to see them. 
- A great number of birds also hunt penguins, for example, the Australian sea eagle and the Skua.  The penguins black backs blend against the dark ocean water, making it more difficult to spot them from above.
- Penguins are highly social, colonial animals. Penguins form breeding colonies numbering in the tens of thousands. They may use the same nesting grounds for thousands of years and the largest colonies can number in the millions, but parents and chicks use their superb hearing to easily keep track of one another even in a crowd.

- The yellow-eyed penguin is believed to be the rarest penguin species, with only approximately 5,000 birds surviving in the wild, though population numbers fluctuate. They can only be found along the southeastern coast of New Zealand and smaller nearby islands.
- The Emperor penguin is the only species that breeds and nests in Antarctica through the frigid winter.
- The naturally northernmost penguin species is the Galapagos penguin, which lives year-round near the equator on the Galapagos Islands, and is the only penguin species that can rarely cross into the Northern Hemisphere, which it may do while feeding.

- Emperor penguins and king penguins do not make any sort of nests. Instead, a single egg for each mated pair is incubated on a parent’s feet and kept warm by a flap of skin called a brood pouch. Incubation can take about 10 weeks and occurs during winter, so the egg must always be kept warm and safe.
- Emperor penguin males will incubate their eggs for two months in the winter without eating while the females are at sea. During that time, they live off their fat reserves and may lose half their body weight. When the females return shortly after the chicks hatch, they switch parental duties and the females look after the chicks while the males go to sea to replenish their fat stores.
- While swimming, penguins will leap in shallow arcs above the surface of the water. This coats their plumage with tiny bubbles that reduce friction, allowing them to swim as fast as 20 miles per hour (32 kph). It may also help them evade predators and allows them to breathe more regularly, and some scientists theorize that they may make these leaps out of sheer joy.





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