Penguins - Spheniscidae
Penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere, especially in Antarctica. Their distinct tuxedo-like appearance is called countershading, a form of camouflage that helps to keep them relatively safe in the water. Penguins do have wing-bones, though they are flipper-like and extremely suited to swimming.|
The Little Blue Penguin, is the smallest of the penguin species at about 12 inches tall (0.33m). It weighs about 2.2 pounds (1 kg). The largest species is the Emperor Penguin, which stands about 3.7 feet (1.1m) tall and weighs between 60 and 90 pounds (27-41 kg). In the wild, Penguins can live up to 15 to 20 years, depending on species.
There are 17 different species of Penguins : African, Adelie, Chinstrap, Emperor, Erect-crested, Fiordland, Galapagos,
Gentoo, Humboldt, King, Little Blue, Macaroni, Magellanic, Rockhopper, Royal, Snares and Yellow-eyed.
Penguins can be found on every continent in the Southern Hemisphere from the tropical Galapagos Islands (the Galapagos penguin) located near South America to Antarctica (the emperor penguin). The penguin species with the highest population is the Macaroni penguin with 11,654,000 pairs. The species with the lowest population is the endangered Galapagos penguin with between 6,000 to 15,000 individuals.
Penguins mating season varies depending on the species, though most breed during spring and summer. Their incubation period ranges from about 30 to 66 days, species dependent. King and Emperor Penguins lay one egg. All the other species lay two eggs.
Penguins are social birds. Many species feed, swim and nest in groups. During the breeding season, some species form large groups, or “rookeries”, that include thousands of penguins. Each penguin has a distinct call, allowing individuals to find their mate and their chicks even in large groups.
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