Adélie Penguin Facts
- Scientific Name: Pygoscelis adeliae
- Family Name: Spheniscidae
- Name: These penguins were named in 1840 by the explorer Jules Dumont D’Urville wife after his wife, Adélie
- Height: 27.5 inches (70cm)
- Weight: 8.5 to 12 pounds (4 to 5.5kg)
- Lifespan: Up to 20 years in the wild
- Group Name: Colony
- Habitat: Adélie penguins live in the Antarctic
- Migration: 8,100 miles (13,000 km) annually
- Endangered Status: Near threatened
- Identification: Adélie Penguins Have Unique Identifying Marks
- Camouflage: The Adélie Penguins’ Tuxedos Are a Form of Camouflage
- Diet: Adélie Penguins are Carnivores
- Adaptations: Adélie Penguins Have Extremely Powerful Feet
- Behaviour: Adélie Penguins Slide and Sled through Ice and Snow
- Hunting: Adélie Penguins Can Dive to a Depth of 175 Meters
- Nature: Adélie Penguins Are Extremely Sociable
- Adélie Penguins Enjoy the Beach During Summer
- Adélie Penguins Steal Rocks
- Some Adélie Penguin Rookeries Are Over 6000 Years Old
- Baby Adélie Penguins Go to Crèche
- The Sun Is the Perfect Navigational Tool for Adélie Penguins
- The Adélie Penguin Population Is under Threat
- Hollywood Loves Adélie Penguins
Adélie Penguins Have Unique Identifying Marks
Adélie penguins are the smallest of all the penguins found in the Antarctic. However, these flightless birds are quite wide so they do tend to look a little overweight. They also have some more specific identifying characteristics.
These penguins have white rings around their eyes; their tails are longer than those of other penguin species; and they have red beaks with a black tip. While their chests are solid white, their backs are black with blue-tipped feathers.
No wonder they look like they’re wearing tuxedos! Their footwear isn’t quite so formal, though – their feet are grey-pink in colour.
The Adélie Penguins’ Tuxedos Are a Form of Camouflage
Although it’s tempting to imagine Adélie penguins strutting around in tuxedos, one of the most interesting Adélie penguin facts is that their plumage acts as a form of camouflage. Three of their main predators are the killer whale, skua gull, and the leopard seal, with the latter posing the most dangerous threat.
If Adélie penguins are viewed from above, the dark feathers on their backs will blend into the dark depths of the water beneath them. However, should a predator view them from below, their white chests will blend into the bright sunlit sea surface above them. Sneaky…
Adélie Penguins Are Carnivores
Adélie penguins tend to mainly eat krill. Also included in their diet are other animals that they can fish out of the water, such as squid, silverfish, and crustaceans.
According to scientists, Adélie penguins tend to eat a lot less during winter, and much more during other seasons. Adult Adélie penguins feed their babies regurgitated krill. Not quite so yummy then…
Adélie Penguins Have Extremely Powerful Feet
Adélie penguins have adapted to have very strong and powerful feet so that they can move around on ice with ease. Their feet have an amazing grip which helps them to survive in their extremely cold habitat.
These feet also enable them to climb the rocky slopes to their nesting sites. Incredibly, these birds can leap out of the water and onto the icy landscape without slipping or sliding. And you thought ice skaters were impressive!
Adélie Penguins Slide and Sled through Ice and Snow
Adélie penguins can often be observed sliding on their bellies over ice and sledding down snow hills. When the water is frozen, the penguins can be seen sliding over ice, and even down icebergs. This is why these birds have a reputation for being fun and playful.
It’s not all fun and games, however. This behaviour enables the Adélie penguins to move along ice without expending too much energy and tiring themselves out unnecessarily. But that doesn’t stop it looking like a great deal of fun!
Adélie Penguins Can Dive to a Depth of Nearly 600 feet
Adélie penguins generally stick to shallow dives when searching for fish and other food. However, one of the most astonishing Adélie penguin facts is that these birds can dive to an incredible depth of 574 metres in order to hunt for food. And that’s without a snorkel!
Adélie Penguins Are Extremely Sociable
One of the more endearing Adélie penguin facts is that these birds are particularly social. They are known to have a very mellow nature. As such, groups of Adélie penguins tend to get along well most of the time.
Adélie Penguins Enjoy the Beach During Summer
It might interest you to know that Adélie penguins are in fact migratory birds. During the winter, these birds migrate north to an environment of packed ice. Here, they inhabit extensive platforms of ice where they have better access to food.
When summer comes around, Adélie penguins head for the coastal beaches of the Antarctic. The ice-free ground on rocky slopes provides a suitable setting for their nesting sites, known as rookeries. They might be at the beach, but it’s not exactly sunny beach weather they’re after!
Adélie Penguins Steal Rocks
One of the more quirky Adélie penguin facts is that adult Adélie penguins have been observed stealing rocks from each others’ nests. This is because these birds can become more aggressive during breeding season.
They move to their breeding grounds in October or November each year. Adélie penguins build nests out of stones and loose pieces of grass. They build their nests in such a way that they are elevated above ground, so that if the surrounding snow melts, their nests won’t get flooded.
The Adélie penguins’ aggression is evident when they steal stones, or even entire nests, from each other for their own use.
Some Adélie Penguin Rookeries Are Over 6,000 Years Old
Adélie penguin nesting sites are referred to as rookeries. One of the most astonishing Adélie penguin facts is that some of these rookeries are over 6,000 years old.
Adélie penguin colonies are known to return to the same nesting sites annually, year after year. Sometimes these rookeries are abandoned, but the reasons for this are as yet unclear. Archeological studies have found evidence that many of these rookeries are used for hundreds – and sometimes even thousands – of years.
So far, the oldest rookery found has been used every year since well before 4000BC. This rookery is at least 6,335 years old.
Baby Adélie Penguins Go to Crèche
One of the most interesting Adélie penguin facts is that baby Adélie penguins attend crèche. Parents take turns incubating eggs for 34 days until they hatch towards the beginning of March.
Generally, each mating pair will have two chicks, although if food is scarce then only one chick might survive. The parents feed and look after their young for 22 to 28 days, after which time the chicks join a crèche with all the other baby Adélie penguins.
This arrangement is for the safety and protection of the youngsters. It must be remembered that the chicks’ down insulates them, but it isn’t waterproof. Their downy feathers are only replaced with waterproof feathers when they are about two months old. Therefore, they will spend approximately 56 to 60 days in the crèche before they become independent and start to swim on their own.
The Sun Is the Perfect Navigational Tool for Adélie Penguins
Of all the Adélie penguin facts, one of the most fascinating is that these birds use the sun to navigate. Throughout the day, these amazing penguins navigate from land to sea, constantly adjusting for the sun’s changing position in the sky. This is the original GPS system!
The Adélie Penguin Population Is under Threat
The most concerning of all Adélie penguin facts is that these birds are under threat. It is estimated that the Adélie penguin population has decreased by as much as 65% in the past few decades.
One of the most significant contributing factors is global warming. This has led to the depletion of the sea ice (ice shelf) that is the natural habitat for these penguins. In addition, these birds have also experienced a lack of food.
Fortunately, there are measures in place to protect these fascinating animals and their habitat from the devastating effects of human destruction. Adélie penguins are legally protected from hunting and egg collecting. No one may harm or in any way interfere with a penguin or its eggs.
You need a permit to collect any penguin specimen, and even then the specimen collection must be reported to, and approved by, the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR).
Hollywood Loves Adélie Penguins
There are several fun Adélie penguin facts for kids. For example, Adélie penguins have featured in several famous animated films. Madagascar, which was released in 2005, features penguins that are believed to be Adélie penguins.
Then, in 2006, Happy Feet was released. This film features an Emperor penguin as the main character who befriends a group of Adélie penguins that, strangely enough, have Mexican accents.
Adélie Penguins Facts – Facts about Adélie Penguins Summary
Adélie penguins live in the Antarctic. They have adapted to this icy climate where they hunt for fish and raise their young. Their camouflage protects them from their main predators, although humans are threatening the survival of their species, which has led to legal protection. These sociable birds are very endearing and have thus featured in several animated films.