What Color are Penguins?

The most adorable birds on earth are the penguins. The black and white color on their body is common in almost all the species of penguins. But, there is some distinct coloration along with the black and white body respective to the species.

Penguins are mostly in the Southern hemisphere and one species in the Galapagos Islands live on the equator. Not every penguin live in the cold temperature, some species also live in temperate regions. Their color, features and characteristics vary from region and species.

Many matured penguins have a black back and white front. The fairy penguins also called as little and blue penguins have blue coloration instead of black. The significantly discriminated species of penguins can be the rockhopper and the macaroni penguins. The yellow or orange feathers over their eyes stand distinct from other penguins.

The advantage of the black and white body:

The black upper body of the penguins appears like a portion of the deep ocean when the predators look at them. When the predators look from below the white body appears to be like a mixture of the sky. The predators like leopard seal and orcas get confused because of the black and white coloration which acts as a camouflage.

The chicks also have a distinct look that is quite far from the adult penguins. The coloration depends on the species. Mostly the colors of the chicks are brown or grey. As all the adult penguins, the color of the chick recognized by the color of the tiny feathers called plumage.

Penguins’ chick:

Penguin’s chick has an unlike color when compared to the adult penguins. Mostly the color of the penguins may be brown or grey.

Gentoo penguin:

Gentoo penguin has an orange bill and white patches over the eyes which spread over the head. The white patches are distributed over the head as well as throat. They have pink webbed feet and a long tail.

The chicks of the Gentoo penguins have black and grey combination plumage.

Gentoo penguin with its chick

Gentoo penguin with its chick

Adelie penguin:

Adelie penguin has a distinctive white ring around the eyes with a black head. The bill of Adelie penguin has brown coloration in the pointed edge. As the Gentoo penguins, the Adelie penguins also have a long tail.

The Adelie chicks are found to be in brown plumage and some appear to be in grey and brown combination.

A colony of Adelie penguins incubating their eggs

A colony of Adelie penguins incubating their eggs

Chinstrap:

The chinstrap penguin has a black crown and white face which is different from other penguins. The black line under the chin connects to the crown and the black coloration extended to the beak. As Gentoo and Adelie penguins the chinstrap penguins also have a long tail. The feet of the chinstrap penguins are pinkish.

The chicks of chinstrap penguins have grey plumage. The head and body of the chicks are grey whereas the throat has white coloration.

Chinstrap penguin

Chinstrap penguin

Rockhopper:

The southern rockhopper has yellow feathers above the eyes. The black plumage sometimes looks like spike lifted. The southern rockhopper has black head and orange bill.

The chicks of Southern rockhopper have brown plumage with a black head and white front.

Southern rockhopper couple

Southern rockhopper couple

Erect-Crest penguin:

Erect- crest penguin has black upperparts and white underparts with yellow eye stripe and crest. The crest is short and erect which are bright yellow.

The chicks of erect-crest penguin have a brown back body and head and white front.

Erect-crest penguin

Erect-crest penguin

Yellow-eyed penguin:

The yellow-eyed penguin has yellow eyes and yellow plumage scattered over the head and we can see a yellow stripe over the head which joins from the eye.

Yellow-eyed penguin’s chicks have brown plumage all over the body.

Yellow-eyed penguin

Yellow-eyed penguin

 Humboldt and Magellanic:

The Humboldt and Magellanic penguins are temperate species. Since they live in moderate conditions they have less of feathers and we can find fleshy areas on their face without the presence of plumage. They also have black stripe and dots on their body.

The chicks of these species have brown plumage with white face and belly. The brown plumage extends from the head to the throat and chest.

Humboldt penguin colony

Humboldt penguin colony

Magellanic penguin

Magellanic penguin

 

Little penguin:

Little penguin has a blue plumage and that is why it is also called blue penguins. They are also called fairy penguins. The little penguins are common in Australia.

The chicks of the little penguins have brown plumage.

Group of little penguin

Group of little penguin

Emperor penguin:

Emperor penguin has a beautiful extensive yellow patch on each side of the head with a black head, chin and throat.

The chicks of the emperor penguins have grey plumage over the body. The cute chicks have a white face and black plumage from the bill to the head and it extends to the thin stripe around the throat

Emperor penguins and a chick

Emperor penguins and a chick

King penguin:

King penguin has bright orange patches on each side of the head and the bill. Also the orange color is seen scattered below the throat.

The king penguin chicks are found to be with brown plumage all over with no additional coloration.

King penguins and group of young ones

King penguins and group of young ones

Fiordland Penguin:

Fiordland penguin is a species of crested penguins. It has bluish-grey upperparts and white underparts with a dark head. It has no bare skin around the bill unlike yellow-crested penguins and snares penguins.

The yellow striped eyebrow starts from the bill which ends back to the neck. The chicks of Fiordland penguins have a dark brown back body and white front

Fiordland penguin

Fiordland penguin

Snares penguins:

Snares have similar looks as the Fiordland penguins except for the skin patch on the base of the bill. The black and white body is same as other penguin species.

It has a reddish-brown beak. The bright-yellow crest runs from the bill above the eyes and extends to the head on both the sides.

The chicks of Snares penguins have a dark brown head and body with a white front.

Snares penguin

Snares penguin

Galapagos Penguins:

Galapagos penguins are the second largest penguins. It has a black head and the white line runs from behind the eyes to the throat. It has two bands across the breast and the lower band extends to the thigh.

Young chicks don’t have the bands and they are dark grey.

Galapagos Penguin

Galapagos Penguin

Royal penguin:

Royal penguins are subspecies of Macaroni penguins. It has the bright-yellow crest extending from upper start point of the beak and to the back of the head.

The bright yellow small plumage coloration is visible under the bill on both the sides. The beak of the royal penguins is red and they have pink webbed feet.

Chicks of royal penguins have dark grey head and grey back body with a white front.

Royal penguin

Royal penguin

African penguin:

African penguins look similar to the Galapagos penguins. African penguins have black bands with spots on the chest and they have a pink gland which is only found in the African penguins to balance the heat from the atmosphere.

The black bill has white patches and the beak of the males is longer than that of females. The chicks have grey and pale boy color with no visible bands on the body.

African penguin

African penguin

Macaroni penguin:

Macaroni penguins are similar to royal penguins. They have yellow crest from the beak to the back of the head and the beak has a pink skin under the bill.

Like any other penguins, macaroni penguins have a black and white body and have a red bill. The chick of macaroni penguins has dark brown head and medium brown back body with the pale white front.

Macaroni penguin

Macaroni penguin

Molting:

Every species of penguins undergo the molting process. The molting season is nothing but the period in which the penguins shed their old feathers and grow the new ones. During this process the penguins look scruffy with the patches of lost old feathers with tiny new plumage.

The chicks go through their first molting process when nearing two years old. After their first molting they transform into an adult penguin.

Molting penguin

Molting penguin

Conclusion:

The black back and head help to find the penguins on the icy white land. Even though, the penguins are of the same species in a colony, their vocal varies from each other. They find their partners and chicks with their unique calls.

The colorations of the penguins are a remarkable beauty of marine wildlife. The age of the penguins also matters for the color and brightness. The penguins look phenomenal on the land and also in the ocean.

References:

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David
 

I got interested in penguins from a young age and as I grew I realized that penguins are such fascinating birds. I made it a mission to create a website where all information about penguins could be accessed in an easy to read format.

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