Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Adelie Penguin

order : Sphenisciformes      Genus & Species : Spheniscidae     Family : Pygoscelis adeliae

An adelie penguin is rarely alone. At sea it feeds in flocks under pack ice; in breeding seasons, it treks along bustling routes between the water and its sprawling colonies. The adelie penguin’s streamlined body, flipper like wings and short legs reflect the amount of time it spends in the icy seas around Antarctica. They found in northern and southern limits of Antarctica’s permanent pack ice. 

Habitat : The adelie penguin spends nearly all its time at sea in pack ice that surrounds Antarctica. When it comes ashore to breed, it lands on barren beaches and rocky coastal slopes to gather in huge numbers. After breeding, the penguin then returns to sea, swimming in groups to new feeding grounds as winter ice begins to push farther north. 
Food & Feeding : The adelie penguin stays close to Antarctica’s pack ice to feed, since krill eat the algae that grow on the underside of the ice. Diving to 65 ft for krill and other prey, the penguin can remain underwater for up to seven minutes. It catches faster-swimming prey squid and fish by putting on sudden spurts of speed while cruising along underwater. Each feeding trip may last four hours or more; frequently, the adelie feeds at night, taking advantage of the nightly migration of krill and squid to the surface. Flocks also travel many miles around the fringes of the ice to exploit the best feeding grounds. 
Behavior : The adelie penguin is an excellent swimmer, but is clumsy on land. With its legs set so far back on its body, it has to walk upright and can manage only an awkward, almost comical, shuffle on its short, stiff legs. It hops nimbly over rocks and other low obstacles, but drops onto its breast at the top of ice slopes and toboggans over the ice,  making better progress than by walking. 
Breeding : Penguins return to breeding colonies in September. Each pair occupies, then defends, a nest site before enacting complex mating rituals. Two chicks hatch following six weeks of incubation by both sexes. While one parent feeds at sea, the other guards and broods the young. After two weeks, the adults feed together; all the colony’s chicks in the same stage of growth join up in  creches, which offer security against predators, such as gulls. Chicks fledge after eight weeks and head to sea. 

Wings : Robust wings are used to propel the penguin in fluid and graceful underwater flying at a speed of 3–6 mph. However, the penguin can put on rapid spurts of speed and reach 15 mph.

Body : Teardrop-shaped for reduced drag in water, the body is also insulated with a thick layer of fat.

Plumage : The feathers, like all penguins, are unique among birds, they’re of a uniform type over the entire body. The shaft is short and curved; a second, smaller, down-covered shaft protrudes from it for extra insulation.

Feet : Sturdy, webbed feet are set at the rear of the body and, with the stiff tail, help the penguin steer underwater.
Juvenile : A juvenile, which takes at least five years to reach maturity, lacks the adult’s eye ring and has an all-black bill.

Weight : 7–13 lbs.
Length : 2.5'
Sexual Maturity : 5-8 years
Breeding Season : Sept. and Oct. 

The word penguin derives from pinguis, Latin for fat. This is a reference to the thick layer of body fat which lies beneath a penguin’s plumage.