Monday, 28 February 2011
Wednesday, 23 February 2011
Everything you ever wanted to know about a penguin’s habitat
A penguin’s habitat is naturally cold and watery. All varieties of the penguin are native to the southern hemisphere, and in fact, they can be found on every continent in the southern hemisphere. Penguins are especially abundant on islands in colder climates, and they tend to remain in areas that are isolated and free of most predators.
In all, there are 17 different species of penguin in the world, and not all of them live in cold climates like we imagine. The majority of penguin species do prefer colder climates, although there are even some penguins that are native to some of the tropical climates located right at the equator. The penguin’s habitat can range from a sheet of ice to warm, sandy beaches, depending on what kind of penguin it is.
However, one thing that is constant across all types of penguins is the need for a body of water nearby. The penguin cannot fly, so the penguin’s habitat consists of plenty of water for them to swim in. Penguins spend about 75 percent of their lives in the water, and they favor cold currents that bring plenty of food right to them. Penguins need a body of water to hunt for food. They eat fish, squid, and various types of crustaceans. The body of the penguin is also designed specifically for the water, giving them a streamlined body shape and feathers to help them move easily through the water and keep their body temperature regulated, even in the coldest water of Antarctica.
The penguin’s habitat also changes depending on what time of year it is. Penguins migrate from the breeding grounds to feeding areas along the coast. Some types of penguins travel very far during their migrations, while others travel only a short way. The penguin also likes to explore, especially while it’s young. It’s not uncommon for young penguins to leave home and wander around the area to check it out, although they typically do return home to molt and breed. Penguins also tend to build nests, using rocks, sticks, or whatever they can find to build homes. They used these nests to lay their eggs and care for their babies.
The penguin’s habitat is still changing today, just as it has for the past 100 years. Researchers believe global warming is affecting penguins and threatening their habitats. Warmer climates in colder areas mean less ice for them to live on. Warmer climates also make it more difficult for some types of penguins to survive. It increases the number of penguins that die because of the heat. More sun makes it more difficult for cold air penguins to regulate their body temperatures. All that heat may also keep the penguins from reproducing, which further decreases their numbers.
Another interesting thing about penguins is that they mate for life. Unfortunately, this can mean that if one half of a pair leaves for too long to look for food, then the other penguin abandons the eggs to look for food. This decreases their numbers even further.
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
There are quite a few distinct species of penguins out there. Unfortunately they often get lumped together with a general term. However, once you start to explore their appearance, where they live, and their behaviors you will understand that there are quite a few differences from one to the next.
There is some debate out there when it comes to the various species of penguins. Many experts will tell you that there are only 17 of them. Others believe that there are 18 of them. The one that is highly debated is the Fairy Penguin with the characteristic of white flippers. Others believe that this is a mutated change though for survival and not a separate species.
One that is very popular is the Adelie Penguin. It is the smallest of them found in the Antarctic. Adelie Penguins have a head that is completely black except for a white circle around their eyes. They are only about 2 feet tall and weigh less than 10 pounds. They are very aggressive in nature to each other. They form colonies of up to 10,000 of them in one location.
The King Penguin is said to be the most beautiful due to the coloring of both yellow and orange on them. They are the second largest of the birds and can be up to 3 feet tall and around 35 pounds. The Gentoo Penguin is about the same height but they weigh less than 15 pounds so they are tall and slender. They have a strip of white that looks like an upside down horseshoe from the top of each eye and across the back side of the head.
The largest of all penguins is known as the Emperor Penguin. The males and females are hard to distinguish as they are very similar is physical size. Adult Emperor Penguins can weigh up to 85 pounds and be up to 48 inches tall. They back parts of the Emperor Penguins are black with a white front. They also feature bright splashes of yellow and orange on their breast region and their ears. The only place you will find the Emperor Penguin is in Antarctica. A great deal of research has been conducted to find out how they are able to survive in such harsh conditions. What we have found out is that they are able to manipulate their bodies in order to adapt to the environment. They can be completely functional at levels with low oxygen, they have solid bones, they can slow down their metabolism when necessary, and even shut down all non-essential bodily functions for a period of time.
The Adelie Penguin is one that often looks quite overweight. It is short but wide which tends to give it that appearance. They are very short with an overall height of no more than 30 inches. They weight approximately 15 pounds. Classified as the smallest of the Antarctic penguins though it is definitely able to hold its own out there. They have some identifying marks that help to keep them properly identified. You will notice they have rings of white around their eyes and the end of their bill. They also have a tail that is longer than that of other species. They beak has a red color to it but the tip of it is black. The Adelie Penguins have been found to reside in all areas of the Antarctic as well as various islands including Ross Island.
The King Penguin is very large compared to other species. It is the second largest of them all. Full grown, they can be up to three feet tall and weigh up to 35 pounds. King Penguin males are generally taller and weigh more than the females. There is no denying the overall beauty of this particular penguin. Their tall and slender build gives them a type of posture and movement that you usually don’t see with other penguins. The body is a dark black and blue mix all down the back. They have dark yellow on their bill and the back of the neck. They also have this yellow color on the front as the bit of black there gives way to the rest being all white. There are quite a few locations out there where the King Penguin is able to call home. Most of them are found in the sub Antarctica region. Other locations include the Falkland Islands, Prince Edward Islands, and Southern Georgia. Smaller numbers of them are scattered throughout both New Zealand and Australia. The King Penguin definitely consumes plenty of meat items daily. They enjoy feeding on krill, small fish, squid, and a variety of crustaceans.
Classified as one of the smaller species of penguins, the Galapagos are quite interesting. They aren’t more than 5 pounds when fully grown or taller than 20 inches. There are some distinct markings that help make it easier to identify this type of penguin. For example they feature a head that is black but has a white border that starts out behind the eyes and runs from both sides to meet at the base of their throat. The belly is white with small black spots scattered on it. When they are adults, you will notice what looks like an upside down horseshoe there. It can be very small or it can range across the entire belly region. The name for this particular penguin comes from where it lives. Along the Galapagos Islands is where you will find them. Smaller colonies are also found in this same generally vicinity but on other islands. Two that have a constant Galapagos Penguin representation include Fernandina Island and Isabela Island.
This is an average sized penguin with a full grown weight of no more than 13 pounds. When they mature they will develop a black breast band. It will extend all the way down to the thigh region. They only have one band around their neck which is an easy way to tell them from the Magellanic Penguins that live in close proximity to them. The Humboldt Penguin lives in South America along the Pacific Coast. It is found in both Chile and Peru. They enjoy the warmer climate compared to many other types of penguins out there. They live on the rocky areas around the shores. Due to the warm temperatures where the Humboldt Penguins live, they don’t engage in the migration process. The physical appearance of these penguins is very much the same for both the males and females. It is from observing their behaviors though that they are able to be distinguished from each other.
You will be able to tell Macaroni Penguins from other species due to the colors of the feathers on top of their heads. They are yellow and black and very dark in color. The Macaroni Penguin isn’t able to fly due to their wings being very stiff. However, they are excellent swimmers. They are about 12 pounds as adults and a height of approximately 28 inches. Each year the Macaroni Penguin will molt. This is the process of losing their feathers and then them being replaced. Their appearance is quite different during that period of time. You will find that the Macaroni Penguin enjoys the cooler climates. They are only found along the Antarctic Peninsula and the Sub Antarctic regions. They do take part in migrating annually and during that time you will find them in different locations than they would normally reside. They are excellent swimmers thanks to the design of their flippers. They form very large colonies. Social interaction is very common, especially among the young. Once they don’t need to be kept warm by the parents these young group together. The females tend to be more aggressive with this type of penguin.
Little Blue Penguin-Fairy Penguin
The Little Blue Penguin is one quite small compared to other species. In fact, it is due to this small size that it is also referred to as the Fairy Penguin. It is the smallest of all the penguins in the world. It can weigh up to 2 pounds and it would be taller than 16 inches. They have a deep blue coloring to them which is why they have been named the Little Blue Penguin. This blue color is on top of their head and all down their back side. The front is white.
The majority of Little Blue Penguins are found in Australia. Other places they have made their home include New Zealand and Chile. A small number of them have been identified around Tasmania as well. The colonies are well defined for the Little Blue Penguin. They will live in it all year long. Each mating pair has a burrow that they maintain. They will return to the same nesting area year after year. They are highly social with each other in the colony as well.
With some very colorful feathers on their heads, it is hard to mistake the Rockhopper Penguin for anything else. These crazy colors that are on feathers in all directions remind many people of the punk rock generation. It is due to this distinction that they are classified as crested penguins. They are the smallest in that category, weighing no more than five pounds when they are adults. Depending on the time of year, you may notice them without feathers. This is called molting and they will regrow new ones. Every year this is going to occur and temporarily alter the appearance of the Rockhopper Penguins. You will find the majority of the Rockhopper Penguins found out there around the Antarctic. Some people find the behaviors of the Rockhopper Penguin to be silly but very interesting. They have been named after one such behavior. They can be observed hopping over the rocks along the areas where they live rather than just walking. They are very aggressive with each other which is different than the social structure for other types of penguins. They will fight over food, nesting locations, and even initial mating partners. It is very interesting to watch how Rockhopper penguins interact with each other. They have plenty of non verbal methods that are simple enough to notice. They include shaking their head, moving their flippers, bowing, and preening.
Also known as the Black Footed Penguin, the African Penguin is one that many people enjoy viewing. They are about 11 pounds in weight and up to 27 inches tall. You will be able to easily identify them due to their physical characteristics. They are black in color along their head and their backside. One the belly the feature black spots and black lines. If you observe these spots and lines, you will notice they are different for each one. This is a great way for researchers to be able to track the behaviors and movements of particular members of a colony of African Penguins. The Southern coast of Africa is where you will find the majority of the African Penguins. There are 24 known colonies of them around this continent. There is no place else on Earth where this species of penguin is found. This is one of the most calm types of penguins out there. In fact, in some of the viewing areas tourists can get extremely close to them in their natural environment without fear of an aggressive attack. It is reported that people can come within three feet of them before they will move away.