Penguin Birds

(order Sphenisciformes), any of 18-21 species of flightless marine birds that are found only on the Southern Hemisphere. The majority of species reside not in Antarctica however, but in the region between 45-60 degrees S in the region where they nest on islands. Certain penguins are found in areas with temperate climates and one of them, the Galapagos penguin ( <em>Spheniscus mendiculus</em>), lives at the Equator.

General Features

The short, stocky appearance of penguins has attracted them to people all over the world. They vary from around 35 centimeters (14 inches) in height and approximately 1 kg (about 2.25 pounds) in weight in the blue, or fairy, penguin ( <em>Eudyptula minor</em>) to 115 cm (45 inches) and 25 to 40 kilograms (55 between 90 and 55 pounds) in the emperor penguin ( <em>Aptenodytes forsteri</em>). Most are black on the back, and white on the bottom with lines of black on the upper breast or white spots around the neck. Colour is rare, being limited to yellow or red irises on the eyes in some species; red beaks or feet in a handful of species; yellow brow tufts in the three Eudyptes species; along with yellow and orange on the neck, head and breast in imperial and king (A. patagonica) penguins.

The population of certain species, such as the emperor, are estimated to be in hundreds of thousands, but most species of smaller penguins certainly exceed the million. Innumerable island breeding colonies which are filled with hundreds of thousands of nesting couples, offer an enormous potential source of food However, the economic significance of penguins is hardly significant. <a href=””>The 19th century</a> whalers and seal hunters visited some colonies for eggs and meat, and penguin oil production once took large numbers of the birds.

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By the early 20th century, , this exploitation was no longer profitable and most colonies were left unoccupied or were actively secured. Some species are increasing in number, perhaps as because of the mid-20th century’s decimation of Antarctic whales. Whales battle with penguins to get the Krill (minute crustaceans) which they both feed on. Penguin populations, however, are very affected by changes in climate and ocean temperature, including recent global warming. Penguins are also very sensitive to depletion of local fish populations by humans.

Natural historical


The penguin’s life cycle change with the size of the body and geographical distribution. The chronology of breeding can also differ within a specific species, in relation to the latitude. The majority of species only breed once per year. Certain species, for instance, that of the African penguin ( <em>Spheniscus demersus</em>) and possibly other members of this genus, as well as the blue penguin, breed twice per year.

A king penguin is born twice every three years. A single egg will be laid by emperor and king penguins; all others lay two or more eggs. Most penguins begin breeding in the autral (southern) season, either in the spring or during summer. King penguins are on a 14-18-month time-span, so the timing of a particular pair is contingent on the success or lack thereof of the previous breeding effort.

Certain populations of the gentoo penguin ( <em>Pygoscelis papua</em>) are also breeding during winter. In the case of the penguins that breed as emperors, the process takes place in autumn. It is reportedly timed to ensure that the extended developmental period will result in the birth of the young in midsummer, at a time when the odds of survival are highest.

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There are a variety of visual and vocal displays are employed between arrival of the birds at the colony until their departure. Calls for courtship are commonly used during pairing as well as to a lesser extent in the subsequent periods of breeding. There are vocal differences between females in the emperor penguin as well as the king penguin , but less so in different species.

After arriving to the colony, both return to the nest where it left last year. Typically, they will reunite with their partner from the year before in the event that the death of the other one forces it to choose another partner. This holds true even for the emperor penguin, which can locate its mate despite the lack of a nest and the size of the colony.

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