[King penguins stand on a beach. There is a lot of activity. Three are close to the camera, and others are in the background. Fur seals are also on the beach, going in and out of the water. The penguins look around, and one holds out its wings and shakes its head. One penguin in the background enters the water. One of the close-up penguins preens, and another shakes its head with its wings out.] [Explore Macaulaylibrary.org]

End of transcript

Feathers aren’t just used for flight; they can also be highly effective adaptations for swimming. The contour feathers of a King Penguin, for example, give them a streamlined shape which helps reduce drag when diving underwater. Contour feathers can also keep the penguin warm on land by trapping air against the bird’s skin that is then heated up by the sun.

This video accompanies Chapter 4, Feathers and Plumages, Handbook of Bird Biology, 3rd Edition from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Wiley Publishing.

Recorded by Santiago Imberti, Macaulay Library