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Penguins – one of the oldest bird in the world. Represents an isolated group of birds, the selection in a separate squad Pingvinoobraznyh. The world’s 16 species of penguins nasityvaetsya.
The size of these birds varies from 40 cm in length and weight of 1.5-2 kg in small penguin to more than a meter in length and a weight of 35-40 kg at the emperor penguin. The body of the penguins elongated streamlined shape, the neck is short and thick, the head proportional to size with a sharp beak. Wings rather short, flipper-like shape, and the legs are very short with swimming webbed fingers. Feet penguins located not like all birds in the middle of the trunk, and assigned far back. Because of this, penguins are forced to keep his balance to keep the body upright. Penguins – flightless birds, but their body has a large muscle mass. Chest muscles penguins is 25% of body weight, which is much more than birds capable of flight. The skeleton also has significant differences: the bones of penguins and marine mammals heavy similar to bone. Of course, all these signs point to the excellent suitability of penguins to aquatic life.
All types of penguins have the same type of color – head, back and wings are painted in dark colors (usually black or gray), low white body. In some species, there is an additional decoration in the form of beams of golden feathers on the sides of the head. The nature plumage indicates a certain primitive penguin feathers arranged them evenly over the entire surface of the body while the other birds, they are growing in rows – pteriliyami. Sami feathers are short and very hard, resembling scales. The tail feathers of these birds is so strong that penguins can rely on the tail of the entire weight of the body as a woodpecker.
Meet the penguins in the Antarctic may be on adjacent islands and the coast of South America. True, some species have moved further north. So, Galapagos penguins inhabited island of the same name, and the spectacle live on the southern coast of Africa. But these kinds settle only where there are cold ocean currents. Different species of penguins live in different landscapes: the majority dwell in the rocky coasts of the islands and continents, but some species can be found on the sandy beaches, in a thicket of grass, and even penguin magnificent coastal forests. Emperor Penguin breeds in general Antarctic deserts in the interior of the continent.
All kinds of public penguins birds forming colonies from a few hundred to one million individuals. The nature of these birds are friendly except in cases where at the time of breeding they quarrel because of a lack of places.
In order not to freeze penguins are often relying on the tail and heels and legs at the same time raised above the ground. Overland penguins move slowly because of the vertical position of the torso and short paws are small awkward shuffling steps. But these birds can make short and jumping, buzzing coastal cliffs. If the penguin “in a hurry”, he goes on cruising planing lying on his stomach on the ice and pushing hind legs.
Moving at the abdomen penguins can reach speeds of up to 6 km / h.
However, all the clumsiness of the birds disappear as soon as they are in the water. Penguins – the most advanced of all the flying birds! In water, these birds the impression of fish: they are easily and naturally slide in its thickness, periodically jumping out of the water like dolphins, to get up to speed; they dive to a depth of 100 meters! They feed on penguins crustaceans or fish, and catch it on the move. In search of food, they can spend a few hours in the water, sailing per day up to 25 km.
The breeding season for most species occur in the spring or early summer, but the small species of penguins may have two clutches a year. Special exception of emperor penguins, whose mating occurs in the fall, and incubating eggs and feeding of the chicks in the winter! Penguins – monogamous birds, they form permanent pair, who are loyal for many years. Males call girlfriends loud cries, and sometimes entice them with gifts – stones to the future of the nest, brought in its beak.
Gentoo Penguins (Pygoscelis papua) emit cries of conscription during the snowstorm.
Nesting penguins come in two types. Those species that form large colonies of nesting next to each other, at a distance of a meter, nests in this case represent a primitive hole or bump, poorly executed improvised material (stones and other debris).
Species not forming colonies of many thousands, equip slot at some distance from each other (at a distance of 10-30 m), and the nest is located in a hole.
Most of the penguins is 1-2 eggs. The chicks hatch covered with gray down. Parents in turn heat the chicks and bring them food. As the colonies of these birds can be located at a distance from the shore visited by parents to offspring rarely (sometimes 2 times a day), but for the time bring a large amount of feed.
Emperor penguins that breed in the winter, and all have to do without nests they incubate a single egg on its own paws covering his special fold on the belly. Moreover, this type of birds nest in the interior of the continent so the whole incubation period starving. Males and females carry the burden of the parent in turn: first the males incubate the eggs, and the female in the sea fatten fat, then ladies and gentlemen changing fledge.
The grown chicks get off in groups of children under the protection of a few adult birds. The process of fledging chicks matured long and size may even exceed adult. But then the parents give them to themselves, and the chicks learn to produce their own food.
Penguins have many natural enemies. In the water, they can attack killer whales and sharks, and one species of seals – the leopard – fully specialized in these birds feeding.
On the ground penguins lurks another threat: skuas and petrels rob in their colonies. These birds are stealing eggs and chicks, which mortality reaches 50-70%.
His contribution to the destruction of the penguins and man made. Formerly a colony of these birds ruined the sailors and the local population in order to collect the eggs and chicks from which drips oil. Now Galapagos Penguins and magnificent endangered due to violations of the habitat conditions.
Zoologist Comment: chicks, covered with brown fuzz in size almost equal to adults and they look thicker. they eventually lose weight significantly Deprived of parental care.