Antarctica is home to animals such as penguins, seals and certain whale and bird species. The month of March marks the beginning of the coldest weather in Antarctica. By this time, many animals migrate to warmer areas, leaving behind emperor penguins.
Rough weather or difficult living conditions are not reason enough to make emperor penguins leave their home. Willingness to survive is the key factor that keeps them rooted to their residing place. They follow various techniques to survive the roughest weathers of Antarctica.
Antarctica is a destination where one can find a great number of emperor penguins. They are the largest penguin species and love feeding on different types of fish residing in the icy cold waters of Antarctica. These birds mainly live in regions covered under ice and therefore, they can well adapt to severe cold conditions of Antarctica.
The streamlined body structure helps them in diving and swimming. The feathers help the penguins to swiftly glide in deep cold waters of Antarctica. The barbs around the tongue are to keep the prey from slipping out. The beak extends up to 8 cm and towards the end the mandible appears pink, orange or lilac.
The base of the ear is covered with a pale yellow color, which works well against the black back coat. From the month of November until February the lower body of the bird appears gray. The process of shedding is quicker and takes place between January and February.
Adaptation and Food
These prolonged winters also bring with them the breeding season. The commencement of the cold climate introduces the courtship phase for them. A three years old penguin is mature enough to find his mate to breed. These penguins travel for 50-120 km inland to start their courtship and breeding.
The entire process of breeding is adapted to the driest and coldest conditions of Antarctica. They breed when the temperature falls to minus 40 degrees and females later lay only one egg. They are known to be loyal and faithful to their better half throughout their life.
The habitat of these aquatic bird is limited to Antarctica. Therefore, the females hunt down a cliff covered with ice to lay their eggs. The female penguin lays one egg in the month of May or early June. After laying the egg both the parents spend their time in protecting the egg as well as nurture the unborn chick.
The mothers very attentively and carefully pass on the egg to the father, who proudly takes up the responsibility to keep the egg safe and warm. The mothers then take leave and journey to far off lands to collect food for their chick. Meanwhile, the males stay close to each other and skip all the activities to keep the egg protected and warm all the time.
The penguin egg is so delicate that the moment it is exposed to the piercing cold winds, the unborn chick can die within 2 minutes. Therefore, during the breeding phase the male penguins live for 115 days without consuming food. Due to these harsh conditions, male emperors loose around 20 kg of weight.
The mothers then return during the time of hatching so that they can supply the chick with some food. After a while when chicks are a little older, they form a creche to keep warm and parents are then free to travel together and gather food for the family.
These birds are a great sight to watch and learning about them is a completely different experience. Though their habitat is situated in the coldest region, their willingness and efforts to survive is one of the most beautiful characteristics these birds possess.