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Q & A

Q. In a group of whales, how do they decide who is the leader?

A. Whale experts don't completely understand the behavior of all whales. But they have figured out that the humpback whale gains power through its "songs." All of the males in a group of humpback sing the same song. It can repeat phrases that make up themes. The sounds are made of whistles, moans, groans and creaks. Humans can't hear all the noises the humpbacks make because they are out of our hearing range. With humpbacks, the male with the most complex song is the leader in the group.

Q. How do penguins differ from other birds?

A. A major difference is that penguins don't fly. Instead, they use their paddle-like flippers for swimming. Antarctic penguins also have a thick layer of fat that most birds don't have. This fat provides added insulation in the cold temperatures. There are 17 species of penguins, and they all live in the Southern Hemisphere.

Q. How long does it take for a bird to build a nest?

A. It all depends on the bird. Some birds don't make a nest at all. Sometimes birds that live along the shore will push the sand away a little bit and consider it a nest. Eagles, however, are much more dedicated to making nests. They are famous for using the same nest for their whole lives. Each year when they return to the nest, they will make home improvements, fixing up the nest and making it bigger. One eagle's nest in Ohio was thought to be 35 years old. It got so hugge, it fell from the tree. Bird experts examined the nest and weighed it and determined that it weighed several thousand pounds! The nest of an osprey, another long-nesting bird, was found in New England. It was thought to be 45 years old, and each year the birds improved the nest. However, these large nests can be a problem, because many of the older, larger trees have been cut down, and the younger trees aren't strong enough to support the nests. People are now building platforms to support these giant nests.