Friday, April 29, 2011
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Monday, April 25, 2011
Each year, on or about the 25th of April, the Adelie penguins of Ross Island leave their brooding grounds and swim to their winter sanctuary northwest of the Balleny Islands. Some decided to mark the occasion by including all penguins and dubbing the day World Penguin Day.
Most penguins do participate in migratory habits. Why they favor some places more than others as their destination is the current work of biologists. Current belief is that the Adelies favor a place that has more pack ice, thereby providing more protection. This appears to be true, as the Davis Station Adelies migrate north, then west, staying close to the Antarctic continent. Also, Antarctica's days become much shorter and the Adelies do not feed well in the dark. Traveling north, these birds have longer days in order to fish and feed.
Other penguins migrate, as well. The Magellanic penguins of South America travel to Mar del Plata, where usually there is more food and less harsh conditions; however, in the past few years, the Magels have suffered many losses due to inadequate food. The Falkland Island Rockhopper Penguins have traditionally migrated to coastal South America, and the northernmost of the colonies favored the areas along the Patagonian Shelf. The Macaronis stay in the sub-Antarctic area, mostly at sea, during their migration from their breeding grounds.
These are just a few instances of penguin migration; the point is that they do migrate and when they do, this action initiates the end of the breeding season and the beginning of a new life in the vast southern ocean for thousands of newly molted juveniles.
Welcome to your world, little guys. Bon voyage!!!
Posted by Lin Kerns at 12:07 PM
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In Germany -- at least among the feathered populace -- it would seem that nascent love affairs with inanimate objects are all the rage this year. Schwani, a swan in the village of Velen in western Germany, has decided that a blue tractor is the love of his life. And in Sea Life Constance, in Germany's far south, a penguin named Bonaparte has fallen hard for a rubber boot.
In the case of Schwani, at least, it would appear to be a long-term thing. Hermann-Josef Hericks, who runs the farm where the swan lives, told the tabloid Bild that Schwani has been beak-over-heels for a blue, 39 horsepower tractor for several years. "Ever since we bought the tractor three years ago, Schwani has been following it everywhere it goes," Hericks told the paper.
'Tractor as a Sexual Partner'
In its always-sincere effort to get to the bottom of the story, Bild phoned up animal behaviorist Daniela Fiutak to ask why Schwani would do such a thing. "The swan presumably had contact with machines during puberty," she said. "He sees the tractor as a sexual partner."
Bonaparte's infatuation, on the other hand, is of more recent origin. Recently, the gentoo penguin has taken to following his trainer around the enclosure -- in the vain hope of getting a little time alone with one of the trainer's rubber boots.
That may be true. But last year also saw Sea Life having breeding troubles in their penguin enclosure. A pair of birds that seemed deeply in love -- and even built themselves a nest together -- ultimately proved unable to have babies. They were, as it turned out, both males.
Schwani's confusion is likewise not as unique as one might think. Five years ago, a black swan named Petra made headlines in Germany for her love affair with a plastic pedal boat. To Petra's credit, though, the boat was shaped like a swan.
cgh -- with wire reports
Posted by Lin Kerns at 12:14 PM