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Spheniscidae

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Macaroni Penguins

All penguins are in the Spheniscidae bird family.

Liam Quinn
Definition:

(noun) The scientific family of birds that is composed of all penguin species. Depending on how individual species are classified, the Spheniscidae family includes 17-18 bird species, 13 of which are considered vulnerable, threatened or endangered to varying degrees. Spheniscidae birds are almost exclusive to the Southern Hemisphere (one species is found around the Equator), though the ranges of individual species vary widely.

While there is a good deal of variation in penguins' sizes and overall appearance, all birds in this scientific family share characteristics such as:

  • Wings adapted as flippers for use in powerful, efficient swimming
  • Upright posture with short legs and feet set well back on the streamlined body
  • Pelagic lifestyle with much of the time spent in the water
  • Countershading plumage coloration for effective camouflage

These birds are popular additions to aquariums and zoos with prominent marine life exhibits. Birds in the Spheniscidae family include the emperor penguin, king penguin and African penguin.

Photo – Macaroni Penguins © Liam Quinn

Pronunciation:

SFEHN-ih-sih-deye

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