Birdorable Galapagos Penguin

Today we are adding another penguin species to Birdorable: the Galapagos Penguin!

This species of penguin has the northernmost range of all penguins, and it is the only penguin species to live north of the equator. The climate on their island home is warmer than that of most other penguins, so they have adapted methods to keep cool, which includes panting like a dog! They also jump into the water to cool off.

Galapagos Penguins are among the smaller penguin species. They are unfortunately the most endangered species of penguin, facing threats related to climate change as well as introduced predators and pollution.

Galapagos Penguins photo
Galapagos Penguins by Peter Swaine (CC BY 2.0)

Tomorrow we'll add a little New World wading bird named for the color of the adult plumage. Juveniles of these birds have no color at all. Can you guess the species?

Birdorable Bonanza preview #6

Cute Galapagos Penguin Gifts

Birdorable King Penguin

Today’s new Birdorable is our third “king” before Christmas. Here is our cute cartoon King Penguin!

The King Penguin is a very large species of penguin, smaller only than the Emperor Penguin. Adult birds can be recognized by their black and white body plumage and by the golden orange patch at the back of the head.

King Penguins have an unusual breeding cycle which takes around 15 months to complete. They breed in large colonies. After a chick hatches, the parents take turns keeping the baby penguin safe and warm while the other adult forages for food for 3 to 7 days. The foraging bird returns, feeds the chick, and relieves the other parent to go off and find food for 3 to 7 days. This period, known as the “guard phase” lasts up to 40 days. Then, during the austral (southern hemisphere) winter, parents leave their chicks in a large communal creche. The chicks fast (eat nothing) for over 4 months, huddling together to keep warm as they wait for the parents to return. Fledging (which for penguins means achieving independence – not flight) occurs a few months after the adults return.

King Penguins
King Penguins at Salisbury Plain by Liam Quinn (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tomorrow is Christmas day! We will conclude our 2020 Birdorable Bonanza with an appropriately named seabird. Are you ready? We sure are!

Cute King Penguin Gifts

Birdorable Macaroni Penguins

    Yankee Doodle went to town
    A-riding on a pony,
    Stuck a feather in his cap
    And called it macaroni.

American fans may recognize these lyrics from the song "Yankee Doodle", a popular tune dating back to the American Revolution. The above stanza, used in later versions of the song and still sung today, refers to a fashion style popularized in the early 19th century: maccaronism. This referred to a fashion style adopted by young men who wore flamboyant clothing with unique and bold ornamentation. Does this remind you of any birds you know?

The Macaroni Penguin was first named for science at a time when macaronis were deeply embedded in popular culture. The flamboyant yellow head feathers found on this dapper little black and white penguin gave the species its common name.

Cute Macaroni Penguin Gifts

Today another penguin joins Birdorable! Here is our cute Gentoo Penguin.

This special flightless bird lives across parts of the Antarctic. Gentoo Penguins are closely related to Adelie Penguins and Chinstrap Penguins. Unlike their cousins, Gentoos prefer rocky surfaces to packed ice for both roosting and nesting.

Gentoo Penguins on Saunders Island
Gentoo Penguins on Saunders Island by Liam Quinn

We're offering our Gentoo Penguin on a wide variety of novelties, apparel, and gifts, including embroidered shirts and bags.

Tomorrow's species is bird of prey who lives Down Under and who is named for its color. Can you guess what it will be?

Birdorable Bonanza Preview

Today is Penguin Awareness Day! This commemorative day is always celebrated on January 20th, though the origins of the holiday are unclear. What is very clear is that these special charismatic birds deserve celebration! Many of the world's penguin species face population threats from habitat loss and other environmental strains.

Here are some resources for learning more about penguins:

To get your mind on these flightless black-and-white beauties, we are debuting a new fun puzzle series here at Birdorable. Let's play Which one doesn't belong?

The birds in the image below have a lot in common, but one of them doesn't really belong. Can you pick out the species of penguin that doesn't go with the others, and tell us what the others have in common? Visit the meet page if you need help identifying the birds and finding out which one doesn't belong.

Which one doesn't belong?

This week we added the Humboldt Penguin to Birdorable. Humboldt Penguins live along the Pacific Coast of South America. They feed on small fish and krill which they hunt as they glide effortlessly through the water. The conservation status of the Humboldt Penguin is considered vulnerable; destruction of habitat is a major culprit.

Birdorable Humboldt Penguin

These beautiful medium-sized penguins are found in zoos around the world. A pair of male Humboldt Penguins at the Bremerhaven Zoo made headlines back in 2009 when they raised a baby penguin together. The same-sex couple "adopted" an egg that was abandoned by its parents and successfully raised the chick from incubation through feeding and finally independence. Prior to this incident, several of the zoo's Humboldt Penguins displayed same-sex preferences (which caused a stir back in 2005), but it was not until 2009 that a couple actually raised a baby together. Check out our Humboldt Penguin t-shirts and gifts and other Birdorable Penguins.

Birdorable Humboldt Penguin sample products
Birdorable Chinstrap Penguin

Today’s bird, and the 15th species in the Birdorable Bonanza, is the Chinstrap Penguin!

Chinstrap Penguin at Point Wild, Elephant Island
Chinstrap Penguin at Point Wild, Elephant Island by Liam Q

Chinstrap Penguins are cute little black-and-white birds that live in huge colonies in Antarctica and nearby islands. They are named for the black stripe that runs under the chin which resembles a helmet strap. Chinstrap Penguins are one of the most common species of penguin found in the world, with a population estimated at over 8 million birds.

Birdorable Chinstrap Penguin Product Samples

Tomorrow's bird is a little black and grey bird that breeds on Cyprus. Can you guess what it will be?

Birdorable Bonanza Preview
Birdorable Emperor Penguin with chick

Did you know that all penguins practice fasting during the year? Prior to fasting, penguins build up a thick fat layer which will provide energy during the fast period. Penguins fast for two reasons. First, some species don't leave their nesting grounds during the entire courtship, breeding and incubation period. Their food is found in the water so they are unable to feed if they don't leave the nesting grounds. Penguins also fast during seasonal molt.

When their new waterproof feathers are just growing in, they are unable to enter the water to feed. Different penguin species have different fast lengths. The male Emperor Penguin has the longest fasting period during breeding season. While preparing and caring for chicks, a male Emperor Penguin will fast for an incredible 90 to 120 days!

If you can't get enough of this extreme avian species, be sure to check out all of Birdorable's cute penguin t-shirts & gifts.

Cute Penguin Gifts

African Penguin fame

A new bird recently added to Birdorable is the African Penguin. The African Penguin lives on the southwest coast of Africa. The species is also called Black-footed Penguin and is the only species of penguin to breed in Africa. African Penguins have pink glands around their eyes which become darker or lighter depending on how hot the bird is feeling. Dark glands indicate the bird is hot; more blood is being routed there to be cooled. It's like a built-in air-conditioner/temperature gauge!

Birdorable African Penguin

One particular African Penguin became very famous in the late 2000's when he suffered feather loss. Pierre the penguin was living at the California Academy of Sciences at the time of his 2004 molt, which seemed might be his last. The loss of feathers threatened Pierre's life, not to mention his social standing among his fellow penguins. To help Pierre, scientists and wetsuit manufacturers devised a penguin-sized neoprene wetsuit for the bird. The wetsuit saved Pierre and eventually the lost feathers grew back. Here's a short video that chronicles Pierre's situation.

You can pick up unique Birdorable African Penguin swag in our shop. Here's a sampling of what's available.

Check out this beautiful tree put together by Peter, a Boy Scout in Utah. Peter's tree is totally bird themed, from the birdy ornaments hanging from the boughs to the Cardinal tree-topper and the awesome spread of birder goodies under the tree! I see birdhouses, bird field guides, even a spotting scope! And I hear there are a few Birdorable ornaments on the tree, too.

Awesome Birder-themed Christmas Tree Christmas Tree with Bird Ornaments

Peter's tree is now showing at the Festival of Trees in Sandy, Utah. The festival runs through December 5th and includes more than 800 decorated trees. The show benefits the Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Thanks for sharing photos of your cool Birdwatcher Tree with us, Peter!