Penguins – Birds that Cannot Fly
Penguins are one of my favorite species of birds. They look like a bunch of men in tuxedos at the beach. Although they are considered birds, none of them are capable of flying. They live in climates and locations that range from the warm Equator to the freezing Antarctic. Penguins are so cool that they have become the stars of many television commercials. Of the seventeen species, it is the Emperor penguin that is the most interesting penguin. After all, how many fathers can go without food for two months, so that they can protect their off-spring twenty four hours a day?
All penguins are found in the Southern Hemisphere and are flightless seabirds. While many people associate penguins with the cold Antarctic, only two species breed in the Antarctic. The two species that breed in the Antarctic are the Adelie and the Emperor penguin. In fact, penguins live in a wide variety of climates and locations. Among the locations that the other fifteen species inhabit are the Galapagos Islands and the coasts of Australia, South America, New Zealand, and South Africa. Interestingly, the Emperor penguin is the world's only bird that never spends one second of its life on dry land.
Adult penguins range in height from approximately 16 to 48 inches, depending on the species. The Emperor penguin is the tallest of all species. Emperor penguins are also the heaviest, weighing up to 100 pounds. Most penguins can be recognized by their white breasts, black backs, and black heads, resembling a small man in a tuxedo. Some penguins have other distinguishing features such as orange, red, or yellow areas on their heads or necks.
Penguins are gifted swimmers, using their wings as paddles. Their bodies are designed to
conserve heat, making them able to withstand intense cold, either in the water or on icebergs. Penguins feed off of small sea life forms, including fish, crustaceans, and cuttlefish. Surprisingly, in captivity, the King and Emperor penguins usually have to be fed by hand, because they do not learn how to pick up their own food (Pete & Barbara's Penguin Page).
Most penguins can be found in captivity throughout the world. The Emperor and Adelie penguins, however, are only found in a few locations. Because they live exclusively in the Antarctic, only places such as Sea World keep them in captivity. The Sea World Parks have constructed special buildings in which the penguin's complete habitat has been simulated, i.e. air temperature, icy surfaces, and cold water. Sea World puts the penguins in a considerably more realistic environment than the usual zoo exhibit, which consists of a cold water pool constructed in an outdoor setting, in a city such as Cleveland or Miami.
The breeding and/or nesting habits of penguins vary from one species to the next. Like other birds, penguins gather in flocks....