Questions About Penguins

Are penguins birds?

Yes, penguins are birds in that they have feathers, lay eggs and have forelimbs modified as wings (but in this case used for swimming). They also share all the other characteristics of birds, being warm-blooded.

Do penguins fly?

No, penguins use their wings (called flippers) to propel themselves through water rather than air. Because water is much more dense than air, penguin wings are shorter and stouter than the wings of flying birds. Penguins are also much heavier than similar sized flying birds and have solid bones rather than weight-saving air-filled bones. While these characteristics enable penguins to efficiently "fly" through water, they have had to sacrifice the ability to fly in air to do so.


How do penguins stay warm?

The only penguin that has to cope with extreme cold is the Emperor penguin. Like all penguins, the Emperor has a thick layer of insulating feathers which are designed to keep them warm in water, remembering that heat loss in water is much greater than in air. In addition to this, the Emperor has the largest body mass of all penguins, which further reduces relative surface area and heat loss. They also are able to control blood flow to their extremities, reducing the amount of blood which gets cold, but still keeping the extremities from freezing. In the intense Antarctic winter, the male Emperor penguins (the females are at sea) huddle together to keep warm and rotate position to make sure everyone gets a turn at being on the cold edge.

What Does a Penguin Look Like?

The black and white suit of a penguin is more than just cute. It helps them to hideaway from their predators  when they're swimming in the ocean. When a penguin is swimming near the surface, it's very hard
for the sea lions, leopard seals and other predators to see its white underside. 

Where Do Penguins Live?

Penguins are found in the cold ocean waters in the Southern Hemisphere. They can be found in New Zealand, on the Galapagos Islands, as well as on other islands in the Southern Hemisphere. They can also be found on the continents of Africa, Australia and Antarctica. 


Are Penguins Good Swimmers?

Penguins are excellent swimmers. Their wings have evolved to form small paddles, which they use to swim through the water.  A penguin uses its webbed feet and stiff tail as a rudder. They can make porpoise like leaps from the water's surface. They can come ashore by walking onto protected beaches or by vaulting themselves out of the water onto land. Then they waddle erect, climb steep slopes, or toboggan on their bellies over the snow.


 Who Are Penguin Enemies?

Their enemies are leopard seals, sea lions, killer whales and birds of prey, the latter feeding on their eggs and the chicks.

Do polar bears eat penguins?

No, penguins cleverly avoid being eaten by polar bears by living in separate hemispheres!

Do penguins bite?

Yes, penguins defend themselves and their nest sites with their beaks and wings. They bite fiercely and also use their thick, strap-like, wings to beat their opponent. Blue penguins and most of the crested species are regular fighters, often getting into bloody brawls during the breeding season. The more reclusive species, like yellow-eyed penguins, rarely fight among themselves, but are still prepared to bite anybody that comes too close.