Penguin Awareness Day

Photo of a Magellanic penguin by David via Wikimedia CommonsSteph realised too late she should have asked special bird correspondents Hayley and Michael to post about penguins for Penguin Awareness Day (tomorrow, January 20). But if there’s a bird Steph knows, it’s penguins. So today Steph is very pleased to bring you Steph talking about penguins, an occasionally Australian birb.

Penguins are obviously the greatest and most noble of birds. They are often teased because they are flightless and do a lot of waddling, but this is pernicious misbehaviour and terribly prejudiced, because all of their grace and skill comes in swimming through water like it’s clouds being parted, and also they are very good at huddling together.

Penguins are mostly a southern hemisphere bird, aside from the Galapagos penguin. So, much like Santa, penguins are yet another Christmas lie, unless Santa lives in the South Pole. Which actually would make a lot of sense, since she probably visits NZ and Australia first, and the Antipodes are very close to the South Pole. I can’t believe I just solved the problem of Santa in a post about penguins! Amazing.

Like many flying birds, penguins are very good at migration. They trace the same routes every season, including this excellent guy who returns to Brazil every year to hang out with the fisherman who saved him from an oil spill in 2011.

“I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,” said Mr Pereira de Souza in an interview with Globo TV, in which the bird honks with delight as he recognises his human friend. “No one else is allowed to touch him. He pecks them if they do. He lays on my lap, lets me give him showers, allows me to feed him sardines and to pick him up,” said Mr Pereira who has named the penguin Dindim.

HOW GOOD AND PURE. Penguins are the best. - Graeme - CCPenguins are not only good at migration, but also good at pooping. It probably helps with the migrating!

They are very good swimmers, kept afloat by air layers in their wings and feathers (the air layers also keep them warm! Excellent practical advice from penguins). They are also very fast swimmers, with highest recorded gentoo penguin speeds of 35 kilometres per hour.

Penguins are very good friends with Cthulhu, as they can dive quite deep, and so have had many opportunities to play nice with the Old Ones.

Penguins are good at hiding! They are countershaded, which means from below (their tummies) they are camouflaged into the surface, and from above (their black backs) they look kind of like the waters’ depths.

Penguins are super social, with most penguins living in colonies and hanging out with their scaly mates all the time.

There are many species of penguin! In Australia we have little blue penguins, previously known as fairy penguins. In Antarctica there are rockhoppers (THE FIERCEST), kings, gentoos, adélies, chinstraps, macaronis and emperors, the latter of which you’ve definitely seen in movies. (I’m not sure what sort of penguins are featured in Madagascar. I suspect them of being macaroni penguins.) There are also many other species of penguin but you should do yourself a favour and learn to identify all of them and coo at them on sight.

JJ Harrison, CCIn Australia you can see wild penguins in a variety of places, including at St Kilda Pier (!!) and Phillip Island in Victoria, and Penguin Island in WA. But you shouldn’t stalk penguins, just let them live their little penguin lives.

(See what I did there)

[Liz note: When I was two, I visited Port Phillip Island and may have chased a family of penguins while shouting, “PINGWING FRIENDS!” I don’t remember it, but my mother would never lie. Anyway, penguins are okay birbs, I guess.]

Five out of five totally non-biased feathers for penguins.

Further Penguin Reading:

Penguin Foundation (you should definitely adopt a penguin).

As much as it pains me to link to an aquarium, a lot of Sydney Sea Life’s latest posts have been about penguins. Including Penguin Care Tips.

You should definitely google ‘gay penguins’ and see what you get, because it is worth it.

Liz recommends Penguin Problems by Jory John and Lane Smith, appropriately published by Penguin Random House, for the cranky pessimist child in your life.

The need for tiny, adorable penguin woollies has been vastly overstated, but Snopes has a picture of penguins wearing jumpers, so go read about it.