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Discovery Magazine 1/1/2001

Stuck a Feather in His Hat and Called it Macaroni

What are you looking at? O.K. I must admit that I do look a little bit funny with this thing on my head, but that is no reason to stare.

Let me introduce myself, I'm Mac, the macaroni penguin. You might be wondering how I got the name macaroni? Well, in the middle of the 18th century any young man who wore a flashy feather in his hat was called a "Macaroni" (which is how the song ''Yankee Doodle" originated). The English explorers saw us with our flashy head feathers and thought we looked like these fancy young men, and thus we became macaroni penguins.

''As a macaroni penguin, I'm just about like most other penguins. I grow to be about 2 feet tall, and weigh between 10 and 13 pounds. Female macaroni penguins usually have one baby every year. The Mrs. and I take turns watching the little tyke so that we each can have a turn to forage for food. We are very social, and usually stay in colonies with thousands of other macaroni penguins. We all build our nests close to each other and raise our young together.

"Did you ask if I can fly? No, I can't. But I don't really need to fly because God has designed me to be a wonderful swim­ mer. The outer feathers on my body hold in warm air so that I can dive into cold water without freezing to death, and my little wings work as good flippers.

''What do I eat? Most of the time I eat small shrimp called krill, but I also enjoy a good squid or small fish every now and then. It just depends on which is the easiest to catch at the time. God has given me everything I need to live a happy, productive life on this Earth, and He has done the same for you. Matthew 6:25-34 explains that while God takes care of us animals, you humans are worth much more to Him than we are.

''Well, I've enjoyed talking to you, but I must get back to baby-penguin-sitting so that the wife can have some time to eat. See you later."



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