Are you wrapped up warm?
We hope so because we’re about to visit our frosty friend the Emperor Penguin.
There are 17 species of penguin. Some are found in South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Galapagos Islands. However, the Emperor Penguin calls the chilly region of the Antarctic home.
Let’s explore some fun facts about this brilliant bird.
Did You Know?
The Emperor Penguin is the largest of them all. It can stand 3,8 feet tall (117cm), and weigh from 49 to 99 pounds (22 to 45kg).
These birds have extra body fat, but it’s a good thing – it helps insulate them from the cold. They also have several layers of scale-like feathers that protect them from icy winds.
Large groups of Emperor Penguins will huddle close together to keep themselves, and each other, warm.
These chilly birds spend their entire lives in Antarctica – the Earth’s southernmost continent – where temperatures can drop to as low as -76 degrees Fahrenheit (-60 Celsius) Brrrr.
Emperor Penguins are excellent swimmers and impressive divers. They can reach depths of over 1,640 feet (500m) and stay underwater for up to 22 minutes!
At the start of the Antarctic winter (around April), Emperor Penguins meet to breed on the thick Antarctic ice. By the time the female lays her egg (usually around June), she’s worked up a big appetite! She then passes the egg to the male before journeying up to 49.7 miles (80km) to the open ocean where she feeds on fish, squid, and krill.
When the female is gone, the male is in charge of keeping the egg safe and warm. He does this by balancing the egg on his feet and covering it with feathered skin, called a ‘brood pouch’. It takes about two months for the eggs to hatch.
The females return in July, bringing with them food in their bellies which they regurgitate (or throw up) for the chicks to eat. The females then take over the care of the chicks, while the males leave for their own fishing session.
Because it is so cold in this region, baby penguins would die very quickly without their parent’s brood pouch.
As the chicks grow, the parents leave them in groups, called ‘crèches‘, so they can both hunt for food. Come December, the warmer temperatures break up the ice that the penguins occupy. This brings open waters closer to the nesting site. However, the chicks are now old enough to swim and fish, and take to the ocean themselves!
What do you think of this nifty bird? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section.