Penguins 101: Humboldt Penguin 10 Fun Facts
The Humboldt Penguin(Spheniscus Humboldt) (also termed Chilean penguin, Peruvian penguin, or patience) – a medium-sized, black and white penguin, that lives on the Pacific Coast of South America. Humboldt penguins share their name with the chilly Humboldt Current, which flows north from Antarctica along the Pacific Coast of South America, where the birds live. This is one of many ummm cool facts about a penguin with a proportionately large head. Welcome to Animal Facts, where large heads are common. If you love animals like we do, slip on down there and click that subscribe button. Don’t worry, we’ll wait…. hey, while you’re down there, go ahead and click that Thumbs up… we know you’re gonna like this one… did we mention large heads? Let’s Get Started. OK.
10. Both the bird and ocean current are named after the 18th-century naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt. Between 1799 and 1804, Humboldt traveled extensively in Latin America, exploring and describing it for the first time from a modern scientific point of view. His description of the journey was written up and published in an enormous set of volumes over 21 years. Other critters named after him include the Humboldt squid and Humboldt’s hog-nosed skunk … well, that stinks… ok back to the Penguins.
9. Like many other Penguins, the Humboldt penguin drinks salt water and uses supraorbital glands, a special gland behind the eye, to eliminate excess salt from the body. The gland’s function is similar to that of the kidneys, though it is much more efficient at removing salt, allowing penguins to survive without access to fresh water. As the salt is excreted, the fluid drips out, and this gives the appearance of a runny nose.
8. It’s not easy being a Humboldt penguin: the birds face a number of natural and man-made hazards. Natural enemies of Humboldt penguins on the land are foxes, wild dogs, and caracaras. Sharks, leopard seals and killer whales prey on Humboldt penguins in the ocean. Their eggs and chicks can fall victim to foxes, snakes, and human-introduced predators like cats and dogs.
7. All penguins are fantastic swimmers and the Humboldt penguin is no exception. While hunting, they can stay underwater for 60 to 150 seconds and hardly go deeper than 88 ft, reaching a maximum depth of 177 ft in extreme situations. They can reach speeds of 20-30 mph while diving. They usually stay close to their colonies when diving into the ocean, going only between 5 and 20 miles away. Humboldt Penguins mainly feed on fish such as anchovies and sardines. They hunt in groups in shallow water, circling around their prey then attacking from the side.
6. Their vocalizations vary according to the circumstance; either to show aggression, recognize family members, courtship or group coordination. Both partners emit a sound very similar to donkey braying and often show nervous behavior when they feel the inconvenience of an unwanted presence.
5. Did you know Humboldt penguins can blush? When they get too hot, they have to avoid over-heating. It can get up to 108 degrees (F) where they live. So they flush pink on their face, wings and feet. This sheds body heat by sending blood to the bare part of their bodies.
4. Throughout the day, Humboldts engage in a vital activity: they preen their feathers. They gather oil from their preening gland and apply it to their feathers and the edges of the flippers. This keeps their feathers waterproof, helping insulate the birds from the cold.
3. Humboldt Penguins breed throughout the year. The male prepares the nest in an underground burrow, cave or rock crevice and the female arrives at the nesting site a few days later. Two eggs are laid which are incubated for approximately 39 days. The chicks are looked after by both parents until they gain their adult plumage at 70 – 90 days old, then they venture into the sea and become independent.
2. Humboldt penguins face a number of threats from humans, due in large part to the productive areas they inhabit. Commercial fishermen are attracted to the highly fertile Pacific waters off South America, where rich nutrients support large fish populations. Their activities not only deplete the Humboldts’ food source but also kill large numbers of penguins that become entangled in fishing nets. Humans also hunt Humboldts for food and take eggs from breeding sites. Humans also harvest guano for fertilizer… guano is a fancy name for poop. There’s little wonder these penguins are in trouble.
The current population of Humboldt Penguins is estimated to be between 3,300 and 12,000 individuals.
1. Since 1995, Chile has had a 30-year ban on the hunting and capture of Humboldts, and four of the major breeding colonies are protected. Humboldts in Peru has benefited from guano reserves, where the birds can make their nests. Guano mining in the reserves is limited, and those who do mine must sign a contract to protect the penguins.
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