Rockhopper penguins are in the spotlight today at Light Future Art! Here are some fun facts about these unique penguins.
1. There is some debate about the classification of Rockhopper penguins. Some scientists place them all under one species label, but some differentiate between three separate species: Southern, Northern, and Eastern.
2. Rockhopper penguins are the smallest of the crested penguins. They stand at about two feet in height and weigh about five pounds.
3. The range of Rockhopper penguins is widespread but actually quite small. They can be found on the Southern-most tip of South America and on small island groups around Antarctica, though not actually on Antarctica itself.
4. When they hatch, the beaks of Rockhopper penguins are black, but they turn orange as they age.
5. Some chicks have the bright yellow tufts of feathers above their eyes that Rockhopper penguins are known for, and some don’t (though they of course grow the tufts later). These distinctive yellow feathers are called the supercilium.
6. Rockhopper penguins are very loud. They communicate with one another with a “braying” sound. They also rely on body language to talk to one another, using movements such as bobbing their heads, bowing, and preening. Rockhoppers are some of the most aggressive of penguin species and often get into fights with each other. Fighting involves loud vocalizations and hitting one another with their flippers.
7. Rockhopper penguins can dive up to 300 feet below the surface. Compared to other penguins, they are somewhat slow swimmers. Their top swimming speed is usually about four miles per hour.
8. There are many words for a group of Rockhopper penguins. They can be called a rockery, a colony, a huddle, a convent, a waddle, or a raft.
9. Rockhopper penguins typically eat krill and crustaceans, such as crabs, shrimp, and lobsters. After hatching, the mother is responsible for feeding the chicks while the father protects them in the nest.
10. Rockhoppers can take long jumps off of cliffs into the water and even falls from their perch and be uninjured. They often jump six feet down from a ledge or cliff. If they do land wrong, their bodies are round and soft enough to protect them.
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