April 25th was World Penguin Day. Why this date? We're not sure, but we think it's to commemorate the annual migration of Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae). Every April 25th, they dive into the Antarctic and swim a few hundred miles north (about 600 km) to where the ice is broken up so they can feed easily. They hang out there until spring (which is fall here in the Northern hemisphere).
There are 17 known penguin species, all of which live in the Southern hemisphere. The largest is the Emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) and the smallest is the Little Blue penguin (Eudyptula minor). Emperors can get to be about 4 feet tall (120 cm), while Little Blues stand only about 16 Inches tall (40 cm).
Most of us aren't aware that there are African penguins. The Blackfooted, or African, penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is native to South Africa, Namibia, and some offshore islands.
Then there are the Yellow-Eyed penguins (Megadyptes antipodes), which live in New Zealand. Their chicks take 100 days to reach maturity.
The Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) breeds right on the equator.
The Chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica) nests in enormous colonies. One colony in the South Sandwich (Antarctic) Islands consists of 10,000,000 penguins.
The first egg in the best of a pair of Macaroni penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus) is up to 64% smaller than the second egg. This first egg rarely hatches.
Can't wait for next year's World Penguin Day? Well, January 20th is Penguin Awareness Day. We here at Talkin' Birds think we'll wear our tuxes.