Happy World Penguin Day!

Happy World Penguin Day! There are 18 species of penguins in the world, so in honor of World Penguin Day, here is a fact for each penguin species.  (If you want to learn facts about penguins in general, check out our World Penguin Day post from last year.)

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  • Adélie Penguins breed further south than any other bird in the world.
  • African Penguins use a donkey-like braying sound to communicate, earning them the nickname “Jackass Penguin”.
  • 99% of a Chinstrap Penguin’s diet is Antarctic krill.
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Chinstrap Penguin (Image via bioexplorer.net)
  • The largest of all penguins is the Emperor Penguin. Emperors can dive up to 1,850 feet, the deepest of all birds. A single dive can last up to 20 minutes.
  • Erect-crested Penguins are endemic to New Zealand. They have most extreme egg dimorphism of all birds. The second egg of a clutch tends to be around 81% bigger than the first egg.
  • It’s rare to find a Fiordland Penguin during the day. Since they are so timid, they tend to be more active at night.
  • Galápagos Penguins are the only penguins found north of the Equator.
  • Unlike their closest relatives, the Adélies and Chinstraps, Gentoo Penguins typically remain on their breeding grounds year-round.
  • Humboldt Penguins aren’t only black and white, they’re also pink! They have pink patches of bare skin on their face and under their wings to help keep them cool in their warm environment.
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Humboldt Penguin (Image via Santa Barbara Zoo, sbzoo.org)
  • King Penguins take 14 to 16 months to fledge a single chick, which is the longest breeding cycle of all birds.
  • Little Penguins are also known as Little Blue or Fairy Penguins. These nocturnal penguins are only 13-15 inches tall.
  • The largest of all crested penguins, Macaroni Penguins spend up to 6 months foraging at sea.
  • Magellanic Penguins are the only off-shore foraging and migratory penguins of the genus Spheniscus. Other penguins in the genus Spheniscus include African, Humboldt, and Galápagos.
  • Not only are Northern Rockhopper Penguins extremely feisty, they are highly social and live in dense colonies.
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Northern Rockhopper Penguin By Arjan Haverkamp [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Northern and Southern Rockhopper Penguins used to be considered the same species, but it turns out they are genetically different. Southern Rockhoppers are the smallest of the crested penguins, standing only slightly taller than Little Blues.
  • Royal Penguins are perhaps the most colorful of all the penguins. They have thick orange bills with pink around the base. Their crest is orange, yellow, and black. Yellow feathers can be found above the bill, forehead and eyes. They also have beige claws and light pink feet.
  • Snares Penguins are closely related to Fiordland Penguins. Both species have thick red short bills, but Snares have a pink patch at the base of the bill. They are found on the Snares Islands of New Zealand.
  • Yellow-eyed Penguins are known to the Maori of New Zealand as Hoiho, or “noisy shouter”. They are one of the rarest and most endangered penguins in the world, with estimates of only 4,000 individuals.


This photo of Penguin Place is courtesy of TripAdvisor

What’s your favorite penguin species? Tell me about it in the comments! (My favorite species is the Little Blue 🙂 )

World Penguin Day

Today, April 25, is World Penguin Day! With their tuxedo plumage, penguins are probably one of the most recognizable birds in the world. As popular as they are, many penguin populations are on the decline, especially the species that frequent or live on Antarctica. Climate change, habitat disturbance, human interaction, oil pollution, and non-native species are some of the reasons for their decline. It’s not too late to help penguins though! Check out these links to find out ways you can help penguins:

One Green Planet Website

Greenpeace Arctic Sanctuaries petition

Just in time for Wold Penguin Day, the group Oceanites released the first ever “State of Antarctic Penguins” (SOAP) report. All 5 species of penguins that utilize Antarctica were included in the study by Oceanites founder Ron Naveen (who describes his job as “I count penguins.” haha :-)). According to the report there are around 12 million penguins in Antarctica. You can read the “State of Antarctic Penguins” report at this link.

So in honor of penguins worldwide, here are some fun facts about these cute black-and-white birds.

  • When you think of penguins, you probably imagine them walking around in the snow in Antarctica. However, only 2 of the approximately 17 penguin species live in Antarctica (there’s some debate over how many species there actually are, some say up to 19). They are the Emperor Penguin and the Adelie Penguin. The remaining penguin species live in more tropical climates.
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Penguin Id Chart (Image via Pinterest)
  • Almost all penguins live exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere…except one. The Galapagos Penguin is the only species to live north of the equator.
  • The largest living penguin species in the world is the Emperor Penguin. They stand about 3-1/2 feet tall and can weight 77 pounds or more. The smallest living penguin species is the Little Blue, who stands about 16 inches tall and weighs only 2 pounds.
  • Penguins are flightless birds. Over time, their wings evolved into flippers used for agile swimming. While swimming, a layer of air in their smooth plumage aids with buoyancy and insulates them in the frigid waters. Some species can reach up to 22 miles per hour while swimming.
  • Most penguin species are highly social and live in colonies. They form monogamous breeding pairs. Smaller species lay 2 eggs per clutch, while the Emperor and King Penguin species lay only 1.
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A Gentoo and 2 King Penguins walk on the beach

Image by By Liam Quinn from Canada [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

  • All penguins have countershaded plumage. Their black and white plumage helps them to become camouflaged. A predator below, such as an orca, would have trouble distinguish a penguin’s white belly from the water’s reflection.
  • Most birds molt a few feathers at a time, but penguins molt all their feathers at the same time, called catastrophic molting. Penguins are land bound for 2-3 weeks since they are not waterproof during molting.
  •  Some species create loose nest out of pebbles and feathers. Emperor Penguin males actual incubate their single egg on their feet. The egg sits underneath their brood pouch (which is a featherless area with a concentration of blood vessels) to stay warm. After a female lays the egg she transfers it to the male. The female will go out the sea for about 2 months while the male balances the egg on his feet for 64 days throughout the harsh winter.
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Emperor Penguins with chick (Image by Robyn Mundy via antarctica.gov.au)

What’s your favorite species of penguin? Tell me in the comments below.