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Penguins are represented by 17 species and there are nearly 40 species that are represented by fossils. The evolved from a small tough flying birds that could fly underwater as well. Probably a bit like modern auks like our northern hemisphere Razorbills (RAZO) or murres (Common and Thick-billed). Of the extinct penguins there were at least fourteen that were from New Zealand. New Zealand was historically a bird place – all birds essentially no mammals; certainly none that interacted with the birds.
I’m going to approach The Falklands through the penguins and other specialized bird groups. There are lots of penguins on these islands; penguins from 5 different species with over a million individuals reside here. There are Macaroni, King, Gentoo, Rockhopper, and Magellanic penguins on this lonely rather barren array of islands. Over the next few pages I will present albatrosses, marine mammals, sea birds, as well as the Rockhopper and King Penguins in addition to this page featuring Gentoo Penguins.
Just a brief bit on these islands – yes this is like the last Falklands post but only a short review. The British and Argentinians lay claim to these islands. Britain has wrested complete control through force and population. There its one town, rather birdless, called Stanley where about two-thirds of the 3,400 human residents live. The resident British folks were subsidized by the government (and may still be) as an enticement for staying out there 400 miles east of Patagonia on a small treeless windswept island keeping a British population and presence well away from London. There are two main islands that make up most of the 4700 square mile area – but there are also about 775 small islands and rocky islets upon which birds nest – sheep graze on a few. Boat access is difficult because of the rough seas and the lack of landing places and also there is little reason to go from island to island. 4700 square miles is about 85% the size of Connecticut or Puerto Rico.
There are three related small penguins known as the brush-tailed penguins. they are the Gentoo, Adelie, and Chinstrap. These are birds of the Antarctic land mass for the most part but there are breeding colonies well north (most everything is north of Antarctica isn’t it) of the frozen continent. The Gentoo is the third largest penguin after King and Emperor. It is a medium-sized sort with a pair of white earmuff-shaped patches behind and above the eye. The bill is bright red in breeding adults.