Bird Families

Gallery of shame: seven species destroyed by humans

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Read about a follower of Linnaeus, a colleague of Cook and patron of Humboldt, about a man who told Europeans about kangaroos and found penguins in Canada, read in today's issue of "History of Science".

Joseph Banks is a man who, it seems, was destined to become a celebrity from birth: he, being the son of a member of parliament (already in the third generation), got on the pages of newspapers even before he got a name. His family belonged to the circle of large landowners, which automatically attracted attention and gave him a certain circle of acquaintances.

However, Banks was lucky not only financially, he was also the first in the family to whom his parents took care to give a decent education (the letters of his father and grandfather, as one of his biographies says, were “sadly illiterate”).

The Banks estate, like other people of their position, was surrounded by a huge park, which attracted the boy much more lessons. Noticing that home schooling did not give the desired result, the parents sent the boy to the prestigious Eton. Schools of that time did not differ much from modern ones, giving not only knowledge, but also skills, including the ability to stand up for oneself. In this, physical strength, activity and determination helped young Banks, and hardening came in handy years later.

In a school that focused heavily on Greek, Latin, and classical literature, Banks did not stand out for being diligent. He quickly realized that he was more interested in plants. So much so that, having entered Oxford, where it was no easier for him to study biology than at Eton, he hired a private teacher. There, in Oxford, he began to collect the first herbarium. Gradually, Banks made acquaintances among scientists, for example, made friends with the Swedish naturalist Daniel Solander, one of the "Apostles of Linnaeus" (whose influence is also noticeable in Banks' works).

Having graduated (without a degree) and inheriting his father's fortune, Banks did what he wanted for a long time - went on a journey to the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador. In these places he collected a collection of plants, studied birds (noticed "penguins", which turned out to be wingless auk, which disappeared by the middle of the 19th century), marine life, and at the same time the geology of coastal rocks. At this time in St. John's, the current capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, an interesting society gathered, several sailors who later set off on a trip around the world with James Cook, including James King, who will finish his third voyage after the death of the captain.

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    Public birds

    In addition to collective protection from predators (the main enemy of chicks is skuas), this allows both parents to simultaneously go in search of food, thereby increasing the chick's chances of getting the food it needs. Some penguin species hunt together in the sea, acting in concert as a team.

    The penguin colony stays in one place for years. Adélie penguins and small penguins have “married” pairs from year to year and even occupy the same place. In other species, males and females mate for only one breeding season. Pairs can be created before arriving at the colony, and sometimes males arrive there before females. Pairing is preceded by a courtship period.

    Some species do not build nests. Others build primitive nests on the ground, in grass, in burrows, rock crevices, or under plant roots.

    Hatching and feeding

    Most penguin species lay two eggs, and only king and emperor penguins lay one egg at a time. They hold the egg on their paws, covering it with a leathery fold of the abdomen. Newborn chicks are protected from the cold in the same way. Penguins of another group, such as macaroni penguins (Eudyptes cbysocome), lay two eggs, but usually only one hatch, usually the second, larger one. A clutch of two eggs increases the couple's chances of successfully hatching at least one chick.

    Penguins do not eat anything during incubation, therefore they sit on the eggs in turn (the free parent swims into the sea for food). In emperor penguins, it is mainly the male that incubates the egg. After laying an egg, the female leaves to feed to the sea, and returns only two months later. During this time, without food, the male loses up to 40% of its weight. If the female is absent for too long, the male, in order not to starve to death, can abandon the egg or even the hatched chick and also go to the sea.

    All penguins are excellent swimmers, and each of the 17 species is similar in basic body structure to the rest. Their body is streamlined with a short neck and long flat wings, completely unsuitable for flight, they are more like flippers. Feet are short and set so far in the back of the body that the bird is standing upright. The tail of the penguins is short and stiff.

    The shape of the beak depends on the type of food: in penguins, which feed mainly on fish, the beak is long and thin, and in those feeding on plankton, it is short and massive. Their eyes are adapted to see under water, and their feathers are arranged in such a way that they allow them to stay in sea water for a long time.

    Penguins swim in three "styles": they can swim on the surface, "fly" under water (accelerating with their wings to a speed of 15 km / h) or swim, jumping out of the water like dolphins. It is believed that jumping out like this allows the penguin to breathe without slowing down. In addition, during the "jump" it is not affected by the water resistance force.

    King penguins, for example, can swim more than 1000 km in 2-3 weeks. All of them are skilled divers. Emperor penguins dive to a depth of 265 m, staying under water for up to 18 minutes.

    Penguins move on land with great difficulty, since their short legs do not allow them to walk quickly. In places covered with snow and ice, they often move by sliding on their belly and pushing off with their paws and wings.

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