Penguins – An Overview
The popularity of penguins is at an all-time high. It is in large part due to the hit movie The March of the Penguins, that such interest in penguins has been raised recently. Until this movie was released in theatres, most humans never knew that penguins could be such a strong and determined animal. This brief article is to give you a short overview of penguin facts.
Penguins are unusual looking little birds, with their tuxedo-styled plumage, and waddling walk that makes many people think the birds are clumsy.
Mostly, penguins have a limited habitat. They primarily are thought of as living in Antarctica, but there are a few penguin species that can be found on the cold coastal regions of South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. There is also a kind of penguin that lives on the Galapagos Islands, and they are called Galapagos penguins. However, no penguins live in the Arctic.
The biggest kinds of penguins are the Emperor Penguins, which can get really big as an adult, and reach an average of 48 inches when full-grown. The smallest penguin is known as the Rockhopper penguin, which only reaches twelve inches in height on average.
Penguins do their hunting and feeding in the water. There isn't much food to be found on the frozen Antarctic ice, so they have to go underwater to find food. A standard penguin diet is made up of fish, squid or krill. A penguin is a great swimmer and can dive very deep underwater, holding its breath for several minutes underwater.
penguins have a very unique and interesting breeding cycle. Penguins breed only once each year, and then only in specially chosen areas known as rookeries, which serve as breeding grounds for the penguins. Much like some other creatures, a penguin returns to the same rookery each year to breed. Penguins will sometimes travel 60 or 70 miles or more just to reach the rookery.
Once the penguins get to the breeding grounds (the rookeries), the male and female penguins will start flirting with each other and finally find their perfect match for a mate. The female penguin only lays one egg. After laying the egg, the female penguin carefully gives the egg to the male, who then holds it on top of his feet so it won't touch the ice. The male penguin hangs his big stomach over the egg to cover it and keep it warm from the high winds and freezing cold climate.
The male penguin will do this for nine consecutive weeks and will not eat food the entire time. During this nine weeks, the male will lose almost half of his body weight, and the mother penguin takes the opportunity to go out to sea and find food for herself, so she can replenish her own resources, which were drained during her pregnancy and while laying the egg. The female will later return to the male penguin, usually just about the same time as the egg is due to hatch, and will trade places with the male penguin. He will then go back out to sea for himself and hunt for food to regain his strength.