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King Penguins

The King Penguin has a silver and grey body, with a dark black or brown head, with gold and orange splashes of feathers near their ears and upper chest. They are quite similar to the Emperor penguin, but often have orange on their chests, as well as being thinner, and having longer beaks. The males and female King Penguins also look very alike, something that is not very common in birds. Along with Emperor Penguins, King Penguins are the penguins most commonly portrayed by the media, often appearing in movies.

King penguins are known to breed on seven different Antarctic islands that have large populations, including the Heard Island, Falkland Islands, Iles Crozet Macquarie Islands, and Marion Island. They often feed by flying overhead, and then diving in when they see something, using their flippers to help them swim several hundred feet very quickly. Usually, their dives can last over 15 minutes, feeding mostly on small fish, squid, krill, and any plankton they can find while diving.

King Penguins have two main enemies that prey on them – leopard seals, and killer whales, which often lurk underneath the shore, waiting for them. As well, birds that mainly stay on shore, such as sheathbills will prey on their eggs, as well as young King Penguins when they are left alone.

The King Penguin does not migrate, and often reside on valleys, glacial moraines and beaches, as they like to be far from snow and ice, and prefer the ground as to the sea. The King Penguin also prefers to travel in a pack, staying close to one another. They are also quite docile, often avoiding confrontation if there is some kind of intrusion. King Penguins that are not breeding often avoid those that are breeding, and vice versa.

King Penguins are different from other penguin species in that they have a very long breeding season. Eggs are laid anytime throughout fall through spring, and the actual hatching of the chick can take over a year, making breeding once a year pretty difficult. The eggs are incubated through the parents’ feet, similar to Empire Penguins, with both parents looking after the egg, which takes a little over a month to hatch. Once hatched, the baby King Penguins fast for a long time, while the adults are away gathering food, and huddle together to stay warm, fledging in the summer.

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