Adélie Penguin

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image: Adeliepenguin.jpg‎

Common Name: Adélie Penguin
Scientific Name: Pygoscelis adeliae

Size: 18-24 inches (46-61 cm)

Habitat: Antarctica. Found in the Antarctic and the surrounding islands. They come ashore to breed in large colonies but they spend the winter months at sea.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 4,000,000 - 5,220,000 mature individuals. Global warming is considered a threat.

Diet: Krill, but they will also eat fish. They mainly make shallow foraging dives of 20 m but they can dive to depths in the region of 175 m.

Nesting: Adélie Penguins come ashore during September and October to breed. They nest in colonies containing thousands of birds and there is fierce competition for nesting sites. A breeding pair will construct a nest by scraping the ground and lining it with pebbles, often stealing pebbles from a neighbors’ nest.

The female will lay two greenish/white eggs in early November and both parents will share incubation duties. After approximately 35 days the chicks hatch and even though the eggs hatch close together, one chick is usually stronger than the other. Both parents closely care for and feed the chicks for two to three weeks but if food is scarce the smaller chick will rarely survive.

The chicks grow rapidly and after 3 - 4 weeks they join crèches with other chicks to enable both parents to go to sea to feed and catch food for them. By March the chicks can swim and are ready to go to sea. Baby Adélie penguins grow the fastest of all penguins.

Cool Facts: Adélie Penguins were named after the wife of the French explorer Admiral Durmont d'Urville. They live 10-15 years.

Apart from the storm petrel, Adélie Penguins are the most southerly distributed of all sea birds. They are the smallest of the Antarctic penguins. They build nests of stones, and will fight over the best rocks.

They are strong swimmers and can jump straight out of the water onto the land. They love to sled down icy hills on their bellies. They are very playful. The main predators of Adélie Penguins are leopard seals. Eggs and chicks fall prey to skuas.

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