Penguin Awareness Day: Fun Facts About Penguins
While we’re suffering through winter, birds are making their way south, and some are headed to the deep south — Antarctica! Yes, this time of year was designed for penguins. That’s probably why January 20 is designated Penguin Awareness Day — a day that matches their native environment. They’re funny little aquatic birds, so in honor penguins and their special day, here are 11 fun facts about penguins.
- Penguins are not “arctic birds.” The Arctic Circle is at the North Pole, whereas most penguins live south of the equator.
- All penguin predators are water-based animals.
- Some penguins can stay under water without going up for air for 22 minutes! But those are the exceptions. Most penguins can go 4-5 minutes underwater without taking a breath.
- Penguins have a special gland to separate salt from seawater so they can drink it. The salt is expelled through their beaks.
- Penguins are not vegetarians. They make meals out of squid, krill and fish.
- Penguins mate in the spring and summer and, even though they have a rough migration, about 80% of the time, penguins return to the same mates year after year.
- Most birds have hollow bones to help them fly. Penguins do not have hollow bones; helps them swim fast.
- Those cute tuxedo-colored feathers penguins are known for are actually camouflage. When they’re in the water, the black on their backs make them difficult to see from above because they blend in with the dark water. Under water, they’re hard for predators to see because their white bellies match the bright light from the sun.
- Typically, birds shed their feathers throughout the year to get rid of the old feather and grow new ones. But penguins are not typical birds. They have one “catastrophic molt.” That means they lose all of their feathers in one shot. While they regrow their feathers, they gain weight for insulation to stay warm.
- Penguin coats are dense with feathers. Emperor penguins have up to 100 feathers per square inch. with four layers to keep them warm.
- Baby penguins (chicks) can take three days to break through their shells. To put it in perspective, it takes chickens about a day.
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