Piebald Like a Penguin!

Penguins are piebald (contrasting black and white), flightless birds that spend most of their time in the cold oceans in the Southern Hemisphere.

Penguins were first "discovered" in the 1500s by Portuguese explorers and called "geese" for lack of a better term.  The origin of the name "penguin" is still debated. Some scholars suggest it is a synonym for "great auk" which was a similar-looking bird found in the cold of the Northern Hemisphere (before going extinct in the mid 1800s). Some scholars suggest that the name is Welsh for "white head" (pen = head; gwyn = white) which is odd because all penguins have mostly black heads. Either way, the name stuck! 

There are 17 confirmed species of penguin, most of whom live in the cold waters surrounding Angola, Antarctica, Argentina, Australia, Chile, Namibia, New Zealand and South Africa. The largest is the emperor penguin (of Happy Feet fame!) weighing in at over 70 pounds and growing to be four feet plus. The smallest is the fairy penguin weighing just over two pounds and growing a foot and a half tall.

Photo courtesy of scienceworld.scholastic.com.

Photo courtesy of scienceworld.scholastic.com.




For an in-person viewing, the zoo and aquarium are where it's at. You can also try watching March of the Penguins, Planet Earth and/or Blue Planet to catch some snippets of genuine penguin life. (Nature is beautiful and can also be tough to watch at times, so you may want to preface some of the above-mentioned videos, but we'll leave that up to you!) 


Penguins' rotund bodies and black-and-white color scheme lend themselves really well to crafting! I Heart Crafty Things does a great job curating some easy-to-make penguin crafts that use items you'll have in your house. Have fun exploring and creating!

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