The king penguin are found to the northern regions of the Antarctica and surrounding islands. They prefer to go to warmer climates than the Emperor Penguin which is easily mistaken for a king penguin for their similar looks. Due to this the king penguin will actually rarely meet any emperor penguins and in fact they are the second largest penguin species, emperor penguin being the largest of all penguin species.
In truth the real reason you see king penguins in the northern regions of the Antarctic is due to them breeding. They prefer to breed in this region and along the Antarctic islands but avoiding the harsh Antarctica weather that other penguin species challenge.
From three years old the king penguin care able to breed their young however most do not breed until they are actually around 6 years of age. Their breeding partners do not last like some bird species where they mate with one partner.
The breeding time is around September to November. When the female lays the egg both parents will take turns in incubating the egg, these shifts tend to last a couple of weeks. It will take around 50-55 days for the egg to hatch where both parents will then have to watch over the chick from any predators. During the time of guarding their chicks most colonies will form a large group that will also deter predators as a group appeals to be stronger. It will take around 15 months for the baby penguins to be old enough to swim and forage for their own food.
The breeding time is actually well timed, during the breeding time it is in fact the most difficult time of the year to forage for their food. This makes it ideal for the king penguin as when they chicks are old enough to go forage their own food (around April time) they will have an easier time in finding food. Therefore it will increase the survival rate of new chicks!
Commonly the king penguin is mistaken for an emperor penguin….so what makes them distinct?
Plumage – Contains a solid colour of orange/gold around their neck
Baby penguins – Chicks have a more fuzzy brown down feathers
Size – Estimated at 94cm tall.
Plumage – Their neck has a more subtle colour being orange/yellow.
Baby penguins – Chicks have gray feathers and a black mask around their head and neck.
Size – Estimated at 115cm tall.
Apart from the above, they have a four layer skin with oiled and water proof feathers with silvery gray back and black brownish head.
What Does a King Penguin Eat?
Typically the king penguin will feed on small fish, in particular the Lantern fish which comes in abundance in relation to deep sea fish. Of course they will feed on other small fish as well as squid, krill and crustaceans. However they do not feed on crustaceans or krill as much as they will feed on the small fish.
Like any penguins they eat a lot of fish and drink a lot of salt water. Therefore all penguins have a salt gland that will expel any extra salt intake. This is a vital aspect of penguins that allows them to diet on mostly fish.
King Penguin Facts
They are an estimated 94cm tall and weigh an estimated 16kg (Adult estimations).
Their main food source is that of Lantern fish.
Like other penguin species they are the best swimmers of any bird.
They are a species of bird….although they cannot fly!