King Penguins on Stamps

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The King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is the second largest species of penguin at about 11 to 16 kg, second only to the Emperor Penguin. There are two subspecies:A. p. patagonicus and A. p. halli; patagonicus is found in the South Atlantic and halli elsewhere.

King Penguins eat small fish, mainly lanternfish, and squid and rely less than most Southern Ocean predators on krill and other crustaceans. On foraging trips they repeatedly dive to over 100 metres, often over 200 metres. King Penguins breed on the subantarctic islands at the northern reaches of Antarctica, South Georgia, and other temperate islands of the region. The total population is estimated to be 2.23 million pairs and is increasing.

The King Penguin was described in 1778 by English naturalist and illustrator John Frederick Miller, its generic name derived from the Ancient Greek a 'without' pteno 'able to fly' or 'winged' and dytes 'diver'. Its specific epithet patagonicus derived from Patagoni Together with the similarly coloured but larger Emperor Penguin (A. forsteri), it is one of two extant species in the genus Aptenodytes. Fossil evidence of a third species—Ridgen's Penguin (A. ridgeni)—has been found in fossil records from the late Pliocene, about three million years ago, in New Zealand.

In 1911, the ornithologist Gregory Mathews proposed the two subspecies currently recognised:

            A. p. patagonicus breeds on South Georgia and Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.

            A. p. halli breeds on the Kerguelen, Crozet, Prince Edward, Heard, and Macquarie Islands.

The King Penguin is the second largest species of penguin at about 90 cm (3.0 ft) tall and weighing 11 to 16 kg (24 to 35 lb), second only to the Emperor Penguin. Like all penguin species, it has a streamlined body to minimise drag while swimming, webbed feet to propel more force when swimming, and wings that have become stiff, flat flippers. There is little difference in plumage between the male and female, although the latter are slightly smaller. The upper parts features of the King penguin include a silvery-grey back with a blackish-brown head decorated with ear patches of bright golden-orange. The 12–13 cm black bill is long and slender, and curved downwards like a banana peel. The lower mandible bears a striking pink or orange-coloured mandibular plate. An immature bird will have yellow, rather than orange-tinged markings, and grey tips to its black brown feathers. It moults into adult plumage at after reaching two years of age. The chick is first covered with brown-grey down, before moulting into a thick, woolly brown coat borne until around 10–12 months of age. Their mandibular plates are black until the moult into immature plumage

King Penguins breed on subantarctic islands between 45 and 55°S, at the northern reaches of Antarctica, as well as Tierra del Fuego, the Falkland Islands, and other temperate islands of the region. The total population is estimated to be 2.23 million pairs and is increasing. The largest breeding populations are on Crozet Island, with around 455,000 pairs, 228,000 pairs on the Prince Edward Islands, 240,000–280,000 on the Kerguelen Islands and over 100,000 on the South Georgia Islands. Macquarie Island has around 70,000 pairs. The non-breeding range is poorly known though presumably the subantarctic waters of the southern Indian, South Atlantic and Asian part of the Southern Ocean. Vagrant birds have been recorded from the Antarctic peninsula as well as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

(Source of text: Wikipedia)

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