The King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is a large marine bird.
The King Penguin has a broad, bright orange cheek patch contrasting with its surrounding dark feathers, and yellow-orange feathers at the top of its chest. It has orange markings along the side of its lower mandible (jaw). It has a long, straight beak.
It grows to 70-100 centimetres (28-39 inches) tall. Males are slightly taller than females.
The King Penguin is native to Antarctica.
It is a flightless bird. It is an excellent swimmer. It can swim at speeds of 6-10 kilometres per hour (4-6 miles per hour). On land, it has a wobbling gait (way of walking) and often slides on the icy ground on its belly.
It eats lanternfish, small fish, squid, and krill. The King Penguin dives to over 100 metres (300 feet) to catch its food. Seals and orcas like to eat the King Penguin.
The King Penguin leaves the sea and returns to land to breed on the sub-antarctic islands of Antarctica, as well as Tierra del Fuego, the Falkland Islands, and other temperate islands. The non-breeding King Penguin is found on the Antarctic peninsula, as well as in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
It forms large breeding colonies of over 100,000 birds.
The female lays one pear-shaped egg, which hatches after about 55 days. Both the mother and the father sit on the eggs, taking turns. The chicks are born semi-altricial, with a thin layer of soft, dark-brown feathers.
The chick spends its time on the parents’ feet – sometimes on its mother’s feet and sometimes on its father’s feet – while the other parent looks for food. The chick goes to the sea after 14-16 months.
[Location of photographs: Tasmania, Australia]
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM