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Penguin Gifts

Penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively in the southern hemisphere, especially in Antarctica. Highly adapted for life in the water, penguins have countershaded dark and white plumage, and their wings have become flippers. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid, and other forms of sealife caught while swimming underwater. They spend about half of their life on land and half in the oceans.

All About Emperor Penguins

The emperor penguin is a species of penguin known by the scientific name of Aptenodytes forsteri. The emperor penguin is found only on Antarctica, and may reside on sea ice, shelf ice, or land. With an estimated total population of 595,000 in 2009, the emperor penguin is considered a near threatened species by the IUCN.

As the largest species of penguin, the emperor penguin on average measures between 43 and 51 inches in height as an adult, meaning large adults may stand at over four feet tall. Adult emperor penguins typically weigh between 50 and 100 pounds, with their weights depending on their respective heights and sexes. Male emperor penguins tend to be heavier than their female counterparts.

The emperor penguin has the streamlined build typical of penguins, as well as flat and stiff wings that resemble flippers. It has black plumage on its back, tail, head, chin, throat, and the backs of its wings, and white plumage on its belly and the fronts of its wings. This white may blend into a pale yellow towards the breast in some penguins. The emperor penguin also has distinctive yellow patches around its ears.

A carnivore, the emperor penguin subsists primarily on fish, and also consumes a large amount of cephalopods and crustaceans. The ratio of each of these consumed by an emperor penguin depends upon the availability of various prey species in an emperor penguin's area; therefore, different populations of emperor penguins have slightly different diets.

Despite their large size, emperor penguins face some natural threats. Emperor penguins, particularly adults, may fall prey to leopard seals and orcas, or killer whales. Emperor penguin chicks face even more danger, as they are preyed upon by birds such as south polar skuas and southern giant petrels. The former, however, poses a relatively small threat to chicks, tending only to prey on dead chicks.

Emperor penguins reach sexual maturity around the age of three, and typically begin to breed between the ages of four and six. Mating usually begins in March or April, during which males perform courtship displays to attract a female mate. Once a pair has been made, several other courtship rituals occur prior to mating. Within a mating season, penguins remain faithful to one partner. However, the majority of penguins do not remain faithful to a single partner over multiple mating seasons.

The female emperor penguin lays a single egg at the beginning of the winter. Each female's mate then incubates their egg throughout the season by rolling the egg onto its feet and covering it with a flap of skin on its belly. During this time, the female feeds in the sea, having exhausted its nutritional stores while producing the egg. When the chick hatches, the male keeps it safe and warm on his feet for the first few weeks of the chick's life.

Penguin Gifts




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