Kristin Robinson
English Language Arts
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Lower Primary, Upper Primary, Middle School
CAST, Clusive, clusive, content
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Penguins are funny birds

Penguins are funny birds


Find out some fun and unusual facts about penguins in this short and interesting article.

Penguins are funny birds

Imagine being a crew member, hundreds of years ago, sailing in southern waters. Your captain is searching for food while exploring unfamiliar waters. Your job is to watch the sea off the ship’s side for ice, guiding the pilot to avoid a wreck. White, floating ice in a dark-blue ocean stretches as far as you can see. The wind is cold on your face. Alongside the ship, a fish darts past. Another slows to a stop and raises its head above the water to look at you. How could a fish do that? 

Photo of penguins on ice near open water.
A penguin "flies" out of the water onto the snow and ice.

Did the sailors see fish with feathers or swimming birds? Today, we know that the sailors saw birds that developed the ability to swim. Their wings became flippers, and they could “fly” through the water with amazing agility. 

Sometimes, people joke that there are two types of penguins—the black ones walking away from you and the white ones walking toward you! In fact, there are 17 types of penguins. Only two kinds raise their young on the continent of Antarctica. Adelie penguins grow to 29 inches tall and have a white ring around each eye. Emperor penguins have yellow-orange coloring near their necks. Standing about 35 inches tall, they are the tallest penguins living today. 

Emperor penguins have portable nests—the tops of their feet. Father Emperor penguins keep the egg on top of their feet for more than two months, until the egg is ready to hatch. The mother penguin goes out for food during this time. Imagine holding an egg on your feet for two months until someone returns with the groceries!

Male and female penguins are both good parents. Once the chicks hatch, both parents travel long distances to find food for them in the sea. When chicks are big enough to be left alone, they huddle together in a group, called a creche (pronounced “kresh”), to keep warm. Sometimes, a creche contains more than 1,000 fluffy chicks.

It may be days before the parents return and the chicks eat again. When they return with food, the fun really begins. Chicks chase their parents, begging for food. Penguin chicks eat huge amounts at one time, storing so much food in their tummies that they look like sagging bags of laundry! 

Eventually, the adult penguins stop feeding the chicks. This is nature’s way of forcing the children to grow up. When the penguin chicks are hungry enough, they find their way to the sea. Without any swimming lessons, they make their way into the icy waters, and they swim as only penguins do.