Majestic Emperor Penguins

Posted in Wildlife A-Z | May 1, 2010 | Comment Now

Emperor penguins are the largest species of penguins. The average height of the bird is 45 inches. These flightless birds reside on the Antarctic ice and the cold surrounding waters.

Penguins indulge in physiological adaptations to tackle the extremely harsh climate. The wind chills can touch -76 degree Fahrenheit. Their behavior is also very cooperative.

To escape the wind and spread warmth, they huddle together. Individual penguins take turns as they move toward the group’s protected interior. After a penguin has been warmed to a certain degree, it moves to the group’s perimeter. This ensures that others, too, can get protection from the biting cold.

These penguins spend the winter on ice. They also breed during this season. Female penguins lay a single egg, and leave it behind to hatch. Their hunting trips are extensive and last for nearly two months. Female penguins travel for nearly 50 miles in search of the open ocean. The distance traveled depends on the extent of ice cover. The penguins feed on fish, squid, and krill. Emperor penguins have the ability to dive up to 1850 feet. They can stay under water for 20 minutes.

Male emperors help by warming the newly-laid eggs. However, they do not sit on them. Male penguins protect the eggs from harmful elements. They stand and balance the eggs on their feet. They also cover them with their feathered skin, which is also known as a brood pouch. During the two months of babysitting, male penguins eat nothing. They are at the mercy of the mighty Atlantic.

Female penguins bring food for their young chicks when they return to the breeding site. They store the food in their belly and regurgitate it from time to time. After fulfilling their duties, male penguins go in search of food in the sea.

Female penguins provide warmth to their chicks through their brood pouches. Without the presence of the warm cocoon, the chicks could die instantaneously. During the month of December, the ice tends to break and open water accumulates the breeding site. The young penguins, at this time, are able to fish on their own.

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