- Learn all about these funny flightless birds as we mark the start of the Adelie penguins’ annual migration to Antarctica
- Did you know they sneeze saltwater and gift each other rocks?
Today is World Penguin Day, a special day in which the Adelie penguin supposedly begins its annual northward migration to Antarctica. In celebration, here are five fabulous facts about these utterly adorable critters that waddle walk around in tuxedos.
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They wear a dual-purpose “tuxedo”
In addition to ruling the animal fashion world, their immaculate black and white body suits keep them safe due to something called countershading. When these gifted swimmers are in the water, the black on their backs helps them camouflage with the darkness of the ocean and keep prowling predators from above at bay.
On the flip side, their white bellies blend in with the bright surface of the ocean, allowing them to easily catch their prey.
They sneeze saltwater
These adorable flightless birds spend a lot of their time in salty water and end up drinking quite a bit of it. They have a special gland near their eyes that filters salt out of their body. The saltwater is then expelled through their nares – their nostrils – on either side of their bill!
They have the cutest collective nouns, which change depending on where they are
A group of penguins in the water is called a “raft”, while those that hang out on land are called a “waddle”.
The name of the group depends on what they are doing, too. Emperor penguins that march in the thousands in a single file line are commonly referred to as a “march” and a group of penguins that slide along the ice on their stomach is called a “tobogganing”.
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They are champion poopers, and some pass pink poo
If the Olympics had a category for long-distance pooping, you can be sure these tubby creatures would take home the gold every time – and probably silver and bronze, too.
During brooding (the period in which penguins are getting ready to incubate their eggs), Adelie penguins have been known to point their rear ends away from the nest and release a projectile of bright pink poo that can go up to 1.34 metres.
The colour of a penguin’s poop depends on its diet – those that eat only fish pass white poo, while those like the Adelie species, which feeds on krill, poop pink.
They gift rocks
The way to a female penguin’s heart depends not on how well a male penguins sings but rather, the rock he brings. During courtship, male Gentoo penguins spend days in search of the smoothest and shiniest pebble to present to their potential mate. If the female penguin is happy with the offering, she will place it in her nest. But as you can imagine, shiny rocks are not exactly in abundance, and a male penguin that has not had much luck landing his flippers on one might resort to stealing from his neighbours instead.