Penguins are cute little birds with legs that are set far down on their bodies. They waddle and hop over rocks. Sometimes they even push themselves along on their stomachs when they are on the snow. They are "countershaded" that is, they are darkly colored on their backs and white on their bellies. They can camouflage themselves very well because of the countershading. As they swim through the water, predators looking up from below are unable to view their white bellies against the light surface of the water, the predators above also have trouble seeing their black backs against the darkness of the deep water.
Facts about Penguins
- Penguins are flightless birds.
- Most babies have fluffy feathers.
- They are able to stay underwater with the help of their bones which are solid and heavy.
- They have a breastbone and huge paddle muscles which help them move at speeds of 25 miles per hour.
- While traveling at fast speeds, they leap out of the water every few feet. This action is called "Porpoising." Porpoising helps them breathe. The chances of being spotted by another animal is also greatly reduced because of porpoising.
- About 75% of a penguins life is spent in water, where they do all their hunting.
- Most of the time they breed in large colonies called rookeries.
- The ones closer to the Equator feed on fish while those closer to Antarctica eat more squid and krill.
- They stay warm with the help of a thick layer of blubber and a waterproof body covering.
- Smaller penguins inhabit warmer climates whereas larger species are found in colder climates.
- They are found on every continent in the southern hemisphere, from the tropical Galapagos Islands off South America to the Antarctica.
- Penguins have one partner for life.
- The male takes care of the egg in the cold, by placing it on his foot and covering it with his brood pouch. They stand like that for almost two months without any food.
- The female usually goes to hunt for food. After returning, she regurgitates the food for young ones and the male leaves the child in the mother's care to hunt his own food.
- Penguins communicate with each other by sign language using their flippers and head.
- There exist about 18 different species in the world.
- Their natural enemies are seals and killer whales.
- Adult penguins incubate and feed their chicks in turns, once they have hatched.
- The King and Emperor penguins lay one egg each, while other species lay two.
- The fairy penguin is the smallest and is 16 inches tall and weighs 2.2 pounds. The largest is the emperor penguin which is 3.7 feet tall and weighs 60 to 90 pounds.
As I have already mentioned above, there are about 18 species of penguins. The images below depict 9 of them.
Despite threats from other animals, penguins and their habitats are also threatened due to global warming, oil spills, pesticides and construction. Various organizations are doing their best to prevent global warming and save these beautiful creatures and their habitats.