Be Your Own Birder

Help Penguins for World Penguin Day

April 25 is World Penguin Day, and what better day to take some simple steps you can do right at home to help penguins thrive all around the world? These charismatic birds are in more danger than many people realize, but the more we know, the more we can do to ensure their survival.

Gentoo Penguin - Photo by Pedro Szekely
Gentoo Penguin – Photo by Pedro Szekely

Penguins Are in Danger

There are only 18 species of penguins (family Spheniscidae) in the world. They are found almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere (some Galapagos penguins do stray north of the equator on occasion), and often spend much of their lives at sea hunting a variety of fish and krill, coming ashore to nest and raise their young.

Yet of those 18 species, 11 of them are officially classified as at some level of risk. Two – the emperor penguin and fiordland penguin – are currently listed as “near threatened” which indicates while they are not yet vulnerable or officially endangered, their numbers are declining and could easily slip into more concerning categories. Four species are considered “vulnerable” and are even closer to endangered status.

Chinstrap Penguin - Photo by ravas51
Chinstrap Penguin – Photo by ravas51

The remaining five of the 11 species at risk are all noted as globally endangered. While no penguin species are yet critically endangered or extinct in the wild, it may not be many more years before those labels may sadly be applied to these popular birds.

Helping All Penguins

Some very big and intimidating threats are impacting penguins every day. Climate change is creating upheavals in their food supplies and changing the landscapes they need to nest successfully, while water pollution of all types is contaminating their marine environment.

So, what can just one birder do to help birds in far off places? More than you may think! Each of these small steps can add up quickly if more birders join in the efforts.

  • Carpool, choose a fuel efficient car, or take other steps to minimize your fossil fuel use.
  • Plan essential errands at less busy times so you aren’t idling in traffic as long.
  • Turn off lights and use less electricity to lower utility use generated by coal.
  • Kick the plastic straw habit and eliminate other single-use plastics from your daily routines.
  • Choose reusable lunch bags, sandwich bags, and water bottles or thermoses.
  • Reduce chemicals – perfumes, lotions, pesticides, etc. – they all add up in the water supply.
  • Only run full loads for the dishwasher or laundry to minimize water use.
  • Be sure even small water leaks are fixed quickly to prevent waste.
  • Pick up dog waste and dispose of it properly so it doesn’t leach into water supplies.
  • Choose native plants for landscaping for less maintenance and lower water use.
King Penguins
Have you heard? We can ALL help penguins!

Any small, sustainable step you can take can have an impact not just on penguins, but on all birds and wildlife. These tiny things may not seem like much, but consider the numbers. As of April 25, 2024, there are more than 8,043,000,000 people on earth. One person out of every 100,000 – equal to one-thousandth of one-percent (.001%) – would be 80,430 people. If each of those people – just one out of every 100,000 – did something as simple as reuse ONE plastic bottle a day, four days a week (say, reusing a simple water bottle bought on Monday and refilled throughout the week), for 48 work weeks a year (let’s plan on a lot of vacation to go see birds), a total of 15,442,560 bottles would be saved in just one year.

Even the smallest steps can add up to BIG results! What small steps will you take today?

Adelie Penguins
Adelie Penguins – Photo by ravas51

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discover more from Be Your Own Birder

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading