Gentoo Penguins on Stamps

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The long-tailed Gentoo Penguin is a penguin species in the genus Pygoscelis papua, most closely associated with the Adelie Penguin (P. adeliae) and the Chinstrap penguins (P. antarctica).

The first scientific description was made in 1781 by Johann Reinhold Forster on the basis of Falkland Islands. They call in a variety of ways, but the most frequently heard is a loud trumpeting which is emitted with its head thrown back.

The application of Gentoo to the penguin is unclear, according to the OED, which reports that Gentoo was an Anglo-Indian term, used as early as 1638 to distinguish Hindus in India from Muslims, the English term originating in Portuguese gentio (compare "gentile"); in the twentieth century the term came to be regarded as derogatory

The Gentoo Penguin is one of three species in the genus Pygoscelis. Two sub-species of this penguin are recognised: Pygoscelis papua papua and the smaller Pygoscelis papua ellsworthii'

Gentoo penguins are easily recognized by the wide white stripe extending like a bonnet across the top of its head and its bright orange-red bill. They have pale whitish-pink webbed feet and a fairly long tail - the most prominent tail of all penguins. Chicks have grey backs with white fronts. As the Gentoo penguin waddles along on land, its tail sticks out behind, sweeping from side to side, hence the scientific name Pygoscelis, which means ‘rump-tailed’.

Adult Gentoos reach a height of 51 to 90 cm making them the third largest species of penguin after the two giant species, the Emperor Penguin and the King Penguin. Males have a maximum weight of about 8.5 kg just before molting, and a minimum weight of about 4.9 kg just before mating. For females the maximum weight is 8.2 kg just before moulting, but their weight drops to as little as 4.5 kg when guarding the chicks in the nest. Birds from the north are on average 700 g heavier and 10 cm taller than southern birds Gentoo penguin reaches 75–80 cm. They are the fastest underwater swimming penguins, reaching speeds of 36 km/h. Gentoo are adapted to very harsh cold climates.

Gentoos breed on many sub-Antarctic islands. The main colonies are on the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Kerguelen Islands; smaller populations are found on Macquarie Island, Heard Islands, South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. The total breeding population is estimated to be over 300,000 pairs. Nests are usually made from a roughly circular pile of stones and can be quite large, 20 cm high and 25 cm in diameter. The stones are jealously guarded and their ownership can be the subject of noisy disputes between individual penguins. They are also prized by the females, even to the point that a male penguin can obtain the favors of a female by offering her a nice stone.

Two eggs are laid, both weighing around 500 g. The parents share incubation, changing duty daily. The eggs hatch after 34 to 36 days. The chicks remain in the nests for about 30 days before forming creches. The chicks molt into sub-adult plumage and go out to sea at about 80 to 100 days

(Source of text: Wikipedia)

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