Make up your mind for the most wonderful king penguin facts for kids including king penguin havitat, diet, and reproduction. The king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is the second largest species among the family of penguins. These flightless birds stand around 95 cm (3.1 feet) high with the weight averaging 11 – 16 kg (24 – 35 lb). King penguins primarily feed on squid and lantern fish and are not apt to prey on krill and crustaceans. These species are often observed to dive 100 meters (330 feet) depth with the recorded depth of around 300 meters (980 feet). King penguins are known to breed in subantarctic islands all throughout the Antarctica, temperate islands and South Georgia. The total population of these penguins consists of 2.23 million breeding pairs and is rapidly increasing. King penguin makes neither nest nor piles of stones for laying eggs which other penguins usually do. Instead, they carry egg around their feet which is shielded with a flap of abdominal skin known as brood patch. The eggs are guarded in this way all throughout the incubation period that lasts for 55 days.
Interesting King Penguin Facts For Kids
- The king penguins rank as the second largest penguin species after the emperor penguins. These penguins measure around 90 cm (3.0 feet).
- The weight of these birds measures at 11 – 16 kg (24 – 35 lb).
- They stand tall, upright, and have dignified appearance. King penguins display a streamlined body to minimize drag whilst swimming. They have stiff wings, flat flappers and webbed feet that supports in propelling water forcefully.
- There is no significant difference between male and female although latter is fairly smaller.
- The king penguin features a silvery-grey back together with the blackish-brown head adorned with ear markings of dark golden. A handful number of species do exhibit an entire black appearance.
- The king penguins have a long and slim bill measuring at 12 – 13 cm (4 – 5 inches).
- The king penguin’s chicks display a dense brown coat that will be borne until around 10 – 12 months. They have black mandibular plates until moult into immature plumage.
- The average lifespan of king penguins is around 15 – 20 years.
- These penguins are perfectly adapted to the extreme conditions in the subantarctic. They are shielded with four layers of feathering that keep them warm. King penguins display 70 feathers per every square inch. The external feathery layer is oily and waterproof however, the newly-born infants lack this layer which is they cannot fish until maturity. The juveniles won’t swim until their brown feathers have fallen off.
- Like other penguin species, king penguins are also adept to drink saltwater due to their supraorbital glands which separates out excess salt from their blood stream via capillary above the eyes. The surplus salt is then excreted through the concentrated brine nostrils.
- King penguins have few natural predators some of which are Skua, marine birds and other aquatic mammals. Other predators are leopard seal, Snowy Sheathbill, and orcas.
- The parent penguins will first regurgitate the food and then feed their chicks.
- King penguins for the most part remain at a certain depth before being finally arrives to the surface for hunting. Besides, they are also seen some 30 km (19 miles) apart from the colony.
- King penguins, on an average, cover 28 (17 miles) foraging area while swimming at an average speed.
- The average swimming speed of these penguins is around 6.5 – 10 km/h (4 – 6 mph). While diving at a depth of 60 meters (200 feet) these species averaging 2 km/h (1.2 mph); however, on deeper dives of more than 150 km/h (490 feet), the average speed is up to 5 km/h (3.1 mph).
King penguins breed in the subantarctic islands (45 and 55o S) along with the Falkland Islands, Tierra del Fuego and Northern Antarctica. They are also found in the temperate islands of Antarctica. The largest concentration of king penguins is seen on the Crozet Island, averaging 455,000 breeding pairs; in Prince Edward Islands 228,000 pairs; in Kerguelen Islands 240,000 – 280,000 pairs, in South Georgia Islands over 100,000 pairs and in Macquarie Islands around 50,000 – 70,000 breeding pairs. The maximum diving depth king penguin has ever reached is 343 meters in the Falkland Islands. They are also known to remain submerge for about 552 seconds at the Crozet Islands. The average depth of king penguins is around 100 – 300 meters (350 – 1000 feet) during which they remain submerge for 5 minutes. This is observed during daylight hours while at night they dive no more than 30 meters (98 feet).
What Do King Penguins Eat
King penguins predominantly prey on lantern fish and squid and rarely relies on crustaceans and krill. The bulk of the king penguins diet is composed of fish averaging 80 – 100%. However, during winter, the diet will involve only 30% of fish. Some of the most common prey includes are Krefftichthys anderssoni, Paradiplospinus gracilis, moroteuthis, kondakovia, Sevenstar Flying Squid, Nopehooked Squid, Onychoteuthis, and Gonatus antarcticus.
The king penguins attain the maturity age after 3 years although only a handful of these species will breed at this age. King penguins will breed for the first time after 6 years. They are monogamous birds as they do not change their mates. The fidelity between years is only around 29%. The king penguins have a long breeding cycle ranging from 14 to 16 months. The reproductive cycle ranges from September to November in South Georgia. These birds will return to the sea after a period of three weeks or so. The females lay one white egg. The weight of an egg measures around 300 grams. In the beginning, the egg is completely white but it will turn into pale greenish color with the passage of time. The egg measures around 10 × 7 cm (3.9 × 2.8 in). The period of incubation lasts for 55 days, with both parents sharing incubation after an interval of 6 – 18 days. It will take 2 – 3 days to hatch king penguins eggs. While the female is engaged in incubating eggs the male will go out in search of food and vice versa. This is done in an alternate days of 3 – 7 days. This will continue for about 30 – 40 days before the chicks form crèches. King penguins are known to form large colonies on Salisbury Plain and South Georgia Island, over 100,000 breeding pairs are congregated. Similarly, there are over 100,000 breeding pairs in St, Andrew’s Bay.
King Penguins Allofeeding | King Penguin Facts
King penguins are often involved in allofeeding. Allofeeding means feeding of offspring by adults other than their own parents. This is mainly because of the fact that these pelagic birds face extreme food shortages during reproduction; their parents leave their chicks in dense crèches. There are several factors that influence allofeeding:
- The breeding conditions of the population were not regular.
- Allofeeding takes place typically when parental provisioning was low.
- Alloparents did not react to enhance begging by regurgitating more meals.
- Allofeeders are primarily failed breeders; however, successful breeders are allofed sometimes.
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