Penguins!

A sea fowl of the Southern Hemisphere with wings represented by scaly paddles with which it swims underwater -Oxford Dictionary

The penguin body and its torpedo shape is perfect for water, not so much for the shore. Their flat wings work for paddling and they have heavy bones, otherwise they would float.

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Seabirds preen for about 70 percent of the day. This is an important activity as it keeps their feathers aligned and waterproof. Only their beak and feet have contact with the water.

In their butt is an oil gland. They will shake their butt a little to have the oil leak out and then will take some of this and spread it to the rest of their body.

Molting is when their feathers change out after breeding. The penguins prepare for this by eating a lot beforehand as they can’t swim during this time. It’s a miserable time and lasts for 3-4 weeks.

Underwater, the penguins are really hard to catch. Their feet provide the steering. Emperor penguins (who I did not see) can go up to 6-7 mph in the water. They can also dive 1,755 feet for about 22 minutes under water. Comparatively Chinstrap penguins can dive about 230 feet, being down about 7 minutes.

The femurs are fused with their hips, providing that characteristic waddle. The flipper bones are also fused and are quite dense meaning it hurts when they smack each other.

Penguins breed with the same partner their entire life, going ashore and waiting for their mate to show up. They select a nice rocky spot for their nest. Only the Emperor penguins hold an egg on their feet.

Males tend to arrive first, 2-3 days to a week before the female. If she doesn’t show up, he will find a new partner.

One of the most fascinating aspects of watching the penguins, is seeing the rock stealing. As they steal from another nest, someone else steals from theirs. The pebbles provide an excellent drainage system in the rain and snow.

Most penguins lay 2 eggs with a 32 day incubation (3.5 months for Emperors). They use their body heat to keep the egg warm. There is a split in their feathers to allow the skin to egg contact.P1050497.JPGP1050524.JPG

Both parents feed once the chick is born. Chicks will even group together while parents are gone. An adult penguin who didn’t breed may also look after them.P1050921.JPGP1050822.JPG

 

 

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