Interesting Facts About King Penguins
Like most penguins, fully grown but unfledged chicks may seem bigger than the mature birds. They have been sometimes known as “woolly penguins” by the early explorers and sealers as the thick brown down of these juveniles looks like wool on sheep.
Some thought they were a separate species, an impression bolstered by their complex breeding season, meaning that there are almost always some girls round at all times of this year.
King penguins have vibrant feathers around their necks and heads, making them the brightest of all penguin species. There is an estimated world population of 2 million breeding pairs having some estimates around 3.2 million.
King penguins live on sub-Antarctic islands scattered around the continent from about 46Â° to 55Â° South, where they form substantial colonies on slopes with a nearby shore for access into the sea. King penguin colonies are occupied all of the year-round, either by the girls or the adults.
Non-breeding birds might be seen far from their property, particularly in the area of the Antarctic convergence along with other places of upwelling (such as oceanic sea-mounts and islands) where you will find great concentrations of fish and squid available that they feed upon.
Major colonies are found on Crozet, Prince Edward Island, Kerguelen Island, Heard Island, South Georgia, and Macquarie Island. Two subspecies are recognized:
– The Falkland Islands and South Georgia.
– Indian Ocean and South Pacific.
You will find significant size differences between the penguins of the various inhabitants living on different islands, and there’s evidence of genetic isolation (i.e., there’s very little or no interbreeding) involving colonies
What is unusual about the breeding cycle of King penguins?
King penguins do not make a nest, but not the perfunctory small heap of stone that other penguin species opt for.
I think penguins are cute!
Instead, they lay only one egg at a time and carry it around on their feet covered with a flap of abdominal skin called the brood patch. It’s looked after in this fashion for the whole of the typical 55 day incubation period, being shuffled from 1 parent to another each 6-18 days. When relieved of this egg, that parent goes off to sea within an extended food foraging excursion.
Upon hatching, the girls continue to be protected on the parents’ toes and the brood spot for another 30-40 days. After this time, they are big enough to have the ability to regulate their temperatures to themselves. It may be many days, 3-14, between parents delegating duties, so the chick has to wait for some considerable time between feeds.
Early breeders lay eggs in November (early summer), which hatch around mid-January; the girls are reared and reach about 90 percent of adult weight by April if they’re independent. An individual penguin can flip between being an early or late breeder.
Parental visits become fewer and further between over the winter, and the chicks are left to survive blizzards and severe conditions by themselves.
It can be as much as 3 months between feeds nonetheless, and a surviving chick has suffered a 5-month delay. The chicks may lose around 50% of the bodyweight at those times.
Interesting Facts About King Penguins
Average Weight: 15kg – 33lb
Though harsh, the winter conditions are nowhere near as bad as emperor penguins are enduring further south.
As food supplies enhance the subsequent spring, the parents return more frequently, and then by December, the final of those chicks have left to fend for themselves.
The parents will then molt, leave to sea for several weeks to fatten up again, and then become the overdue breeders for that season.
Any parents that have dropped their eggs or chicks throughout winter will end up that season’s ancient breeders.
Within this unusual breeding cycle, king penguins generally only average one chick every two years or at most two at a three-year cycle. The king penguin is limited in range to ice-free regions due to having to feed its chick throughout the winter.
How can King penguins live their lives?
King penguins leave the colony where they were born when they have fledged fully and can swim in the sea and catch their own food. They can’t go in the water until they have lost their fluffy brown juvenile down, a superb insulator from the air, but a very poor insulator when wet. They won’t return to breed until they have been at least 3 years old, when they will usually return to the site where they were born and continue to do so throughout their lives, which could last up to 30 years.
A molt precedes breeding in the place where they shed their old feathers and have them replaced with fresh ones. Like the juveniles, adults cannot fish for food until they have a fresh, fully intact, and functioning set of feathers; therefore, this molting period is just one starvation when living on food reserves.
Returning to the adults’ breeding colony doesn’t happen en masse because it does with another penguin species. This means that finding the same mate again is not as likely, and king penguins often change partners for each breeding cycle rather than pairing up with the same partner.
Average Height: 95cm – 3.1ft
King penguins fitted with thickness recorders are found to dive to 50m (160ft) in about half of their lives. They often dive deeper than that and have been recorded at up to 500m (1600ft). Deep dives tend only to happen during the afternoon, with just shallow dives being recorded at night that accounts for only a minority of fishing drops.
They hunt prey that produces light by bioluminescence, presumably how the penguins can see to fish at night.
Once a penguin finds its perfect other penguin, they stay together pretty much forever.
So helpful are king penguins at carrying depth recorders. Some have been utilized to carry temperature and depth sensors together to give scientists a 3-dimensional sea temperature set at various depths in the Southern Ocean.
King penguins are mainly subjected to tourist presence in the Falkland Islands and on South Georgia; tourism is shallow currently. Penguins generally are lots of tourists and aren’t alarmed by their own presence as long as they don’t enter the colony.