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The Unique World of the Penguin

Did you know that penguins are considered, for many reasons, to be the most social bird of all? They can communicate by using vocalization, as well as displaying physical behavior to their mates and chicks. In fact, many penguin chicks can find their parents using sounds and certain behaviors! A penguin feeds and swims in groups, but that does not mean they don't like to be alone once in a while. Some go diving for food on their own, but most often they are seen in groups.

When breeding season comes along, some penguin species make a home on shore in order to nest in large colonies called rookeries. These nests can be filled with up to hundreds of thousands of penguins, but they can also take up several square kilometers of space. Penguins are very smart, in that they use intelligent visual and vocal displays to communicate, establish and nest with other penguins in the territory. Outgoing birds like the King Penguin are very social in rookeries, yet they still travel in small groups of up to twenty birds.

Penguins seem to have their own language. Each penguin call is different, allowing for easy recognition between mates and chicks. Since most penguins look alike, it is a good idea they can tell each other apart by action and sounds! Penguins have three main types of calling sounds. The first, a contact call, is used primarily at sea and helps other penguins recognize other colony members. A second, the display call, is used between partners in a colony. Each penguin can identify his or her partner based on territorial and individual visual recognition. The last penguin call is a threat call, and this sound is used to defend a colony, and warn predators to back off!

Penguins are very loving and nurturing animals. The hatching of baby chicks shows how important it is for penguin mates to work together. Each penguin takes turns at incubating the eggs, or keeping it warm until it hatches. Parents transfer the egg very careful between themselves while the female penguin goes into the sea in search of food while the male keeps the egg warm. The male penguin fasts, and when the female returns, he is able to go find food for himself.

Once a chick hatches, the only way for it to survive is through the cares and nurturing of the parents. Adult penguins only recognize their own chicks, and feed only them. As mates can identify each other through vocal recognition, so too can the parents identify their chicks by the way they sound. Parents take care of their young for weeks or months, depending on the species. Once the chick has grown proper weatherproof feathers, they are able to venture out on their own and become independent.

Penguins are not only a species that spends a lot of time in communities, but they also rely on family relationships to nurture their young. Yes, penguins are very special indeed.

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