Saturday, June 16, 2012

Galapagos Penguin

Spheniscus mendiculus
Did you know that there is only one species of Penguin that lives north of the Equator? Today's animal is the very one! The Galapagos Penguin is endemic to its namesake islands which lie smack dab on the Equator, giving the birds their unique distinction!

Galapagos Penguins are small little guys, standing only about 18in tall when full grown. They have black heads and bodies, with white bellies and white horse-shoe-shaped lines that run from their eye to chin.

Living in such a warm climate can be rough for a bird from an Antarctic Family! In order to stay cool the penguins spend the daytime in the colder current waters, and then they come ashore at night. They also pant, hold their flippers out to let heat out of their bodies, and stand hunched over their bare feet.

Galapagos Penguins don't' have a set breeding season-- they tend to reproduce whenever the food supply is the most abundant. pairs will mate for life, which helps when you have such irregular breeding patterns. They lay two eggs at a time, nesting in rock crevasses. Parent have to protect their offspring carefully during the first month of life-- they don't have feathers yet that can protect them from the harsh sun!

There are only around 1,000 Galapagos Penguin breeding pairs left in the wild, and they are considered to be Endangered. Climate Change has been a major factor in their population decline-- warmer water temperatures lead to smaller food stocks.

IUCN Status : Endangered
Location : Galapagos Islands
Size : Length up to 19in (49cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Sphenisciformes
Family : Spheniscidae -- Genus : Spheniscus -- Species : S. mendiculus

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