Emperor Penguins are extremely large Penguins, that have short tails, and cream patches on their nape, and on the sides of their neck. These Penguins are almost classified as threatened because of the disturbances in their habitat. Emperor Penguins are native to Antarctica, as any other area would be completely unsuitable for their survival. Male and female Emperor Penguins are similar in size and color.
10 Amazing Facts About Emperor Penguins
1. Emperor Penguins are the heaviest and tallest species of Penguin!
Emperor Penguins weigh between 49 and 99 pounds, and their length is around 39 inches. Not only are these birds the largest and strongest of all Penguins, but they also have impressive adaptive strategies to thrive in the climate they live in.
2.Emperor Penguins breed during the winter in the Antarctic!
As mentioned earlier, these birds are native to Antarctica, and they are also the only species of Penguins that spend the winter in Antarctica. During these winters, this species travels up to 75 miles toward breeding colonies that contain thousands of individuals. This traveling is done on foot, over patches of ice. As these Penguins are quite large, females lay only one egg per season, and this egg needs to be incubated for almost 2 months. The incubation is done by the male, while the female travels to the sea to feed. During this period, the males have no opportunity to feed, so they lose about 12 kilograms on average.
3.Although adult survival rate is excellent, most Emperor Penguin chicks die early!
Over 95% of adult Emperor Penguins survive, and their average life expectancy is almost around 20 years. A tiny percentage of Emperor Penguins can also live up to 50 years. Sadly, hatchlings have a significantly lower survival rate. Only 19% of chicks live past the age of 1, so 80% of Emperor Penguins alive today are over the age of 5.
4.They can dive for long periods of time!
Known as the 5th heaviest bird species in the world, Emperor Penguins have stiff slipper-like flippers and streamlined bodies which makes swimming easier for them. This also prevents them from being dragged away by the water current. To efficiently catch their prey, their tongues are equipped with barbs that face away from their mouth. Emperor Penguins can dive for up to 20 minutes, and they have been known to dive as deep as 564 meters. Foraging is the main purpose of these dives.
5.Climate change is adversely affecting this species.
No other birds can sustain the climates that Emperor Penguins live in. In their breeding habitat, temperatures are known to fall below -40 degrees celsius, and wind speeds can be as high as 90 miles per hour. Despite this, they can maintain a body temperature of 39 degrees celsius.
6.Their feeding sites can be as far as 311 miles away from their colonies!
Both members of the pair travel far away from their colonies to collect food to feed their young. Each individual makes long trips ranging between 51-903 miles per trip.
7.Emperor Penguins use a turtle formation to protect themselves from the cold!
A turtle formation more simply called a compact huddle is made by the Emperor Penguins to warm their bodies. This huddle might include hundreds of birds. Participating birds lean on each other during this. This formation is particularly important for juveniles as they are placed in the center of the huddle, to avoid the ill effects of the wind chill. The more participants that there are, the safer it is for the juveniles in the middle. Penguins move around in the huddle, so everyone is given a chance to warm themselves.
8.Although Emperor Penguins have healthy numbers, they are near threatened!
Almost 600,000 Emperor Penguins were recorded in 2009, but as their habitat is severely affected due to global warming, their population is in danger. As the ice is melting, it has become increasingly difficult for these birds to survive, as ice is necessary for the availability of their primary prey. A study conducted by the “Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute” in 2009 concluded that there is a high possibility of Emperor Penguins being brought to the verge of extinction by 2100. An 87% decline in breeding populations is predicted.
9.Some Emperor Penguin chicks die due to scuffles between adult females.
Unpaired female Emperor Penguins often try to adopt stray younglings or steal the chicks from others. If stolen, the mother will fight aggressively to get back her chick. Other neighbouring females will also help the mother in this endeavor. As a result of all this chaos, the chick often gets smothered to death. Successfully stolen chicks do not face a particularly brighter future either, because a single female is often unable to provide enough food for the chick. So, these chicks are often abandoned again.
10.Chicks can never survive on their own.
Abandoned hatchlings face a very tragic death. These Penguins desperately wander around breeding colonies to search for food from adults. Sometimes they desperately also try to enter the occupied brooding patch of these adults. This behavior is not entertained by the adults, so they eventually drive such chicks away. These chicks quickly lose strength and starve to death. Some chicks also might freeze to death.
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Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Emperor Penguins
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Emperor Penguins are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.