Emperor penguins are the largest of all the penguin species. Their most noticable feature is a yellow tear-drop shaped patch on the sides of their heads. The chicks have thick gray down with black heads.
Height & Weight
Adult emperor penguins are about 1.2 meters (~4 feet) tall while the juveniles are slightly shorter at around 90cm. Emperors weigh around 30 to 40kg though it varies during the year. During the long Antarctic winter, males can lose half of their body weight while incubating the eggs while the female goes to hunt for food.
Breeding & Population
Emperor penguins are found along the edges of the Antarctic continent but go deep inland to breed. The total breeding population of emperors is believe to be around 200,000 pairs
Emperor penguins do not have nests. During the severely cold Antarctic winter, the female lays a single egg on her feet and immediately transfers it to the male’s feet who places it underneath an abdominal fold of skin called a brood pouch. There the egg will incubate for 65 days. The female will go to the ocean in search of food while the male huddles and sleeps among the rest of the males, surviving on their fat reserves throughout the entire winter. The chick hatches before the mother comes back and will live under the same pouch until she does. The chick is fed a white milky substance from a gland in its esophagus.
The female emperor returns after 2 months and they exchange places, the male to find food & the female to care for the chick. The chick will travel to the sea with its parents by summer time. At the end of the summer, the emperors that are 4 years or older will make the inland trip to court and breed. The younger ones will stay at the sea until they are old enough.
Emperor penguins eat mostly fish and crustaceans such as krill. Emperor chicks are fed by their parents regurgitating the fish they had hunted weeks before. Emperors can dive the farthest of all penguins at 150 to 250 meters (490 to 820 feet) to find the fish but usually only have to travel down 50 meters.