Posts Tagged ‘Penguin Mating’

Penguin Monogamy and Separation

September 9, 2015

With its spiky head plumage and intense red eyes, the southern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome, seen above) looks more like a punk guy with attitude than a committed monogamous penguin partner. But these males mate for life, reuniting with the same female year after year during mating season. Despite their monogamous mating patterns, however, the penguins really don’t spend much time together,  according to a new study. Using GPS trackers mounted to the penguins’ legs, scientists monitored 16 Rockhoppers from a colony in the Falkland Islands over the course of a mating season.

sn-penguins_2 The data show that males arrived at the nesting site approximately 6 days before their female counterparts and stayed about 6 days longer. However, the short mating season means the pairs are only united for about 20 days a year. And when they were separated, it was usually by a large distance: During the winter months, partners were separated by an average distance of about 400 miles, and one pair was observed as far as 1800 miles apart, the team reports online today in Biology Letters. Despite the large spatial segregation, their habitats were quite similar, ruling out the possibility that partners are spending the winter months apart because of sex-based differences in habitat or food preference. So why don’t the birds just stick together? So far it’s still a mystery, but the team speculates that if the penguins arrived at and left the nesting site at the same time, they’d be much more likely to spend the winter together. But because the females show up late and leave early, the problem of finding one another after a week of dispersing through the open ocean might not be worth it—it’s just easier to just meet back at the nesting site next year.

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Tennessee Penguins Get Rocked

April 8, 2015

These penguins are eager for their stones. They begin screeching with excitement as the first bucket of rocks is dumped inside their home in the Penguins’ Rock exhibit at the Tennessee Aquarium on Thursday morning.

“These are like magic rocks that signal breeding season,” said Loribeth Lee, senior aviculturist at the aquarium. “They have a one-track mind, and breeding is all they can think about.” Once a year, typically during the first week of April, aquarium staffers begin to haul more than 500 pounds of rocks into the exhibit for the penguins to use to build their nests. The rocks they bring in are specially selected: they need to be small enough for penguins to carry in their beaks, but not so small they can be swallowed, Lee said. During the breeding season, penguins are noticeably more aggressive, Lee said. They occasionally get into fights over rocks and each other’s nests.

040315b01aquariumpenguins6774361180_t1070_hf79e995f9b9e2c374955a3cc86ce3d3230a0d19e-1As soon as the nests begin to take shape, the penguins will start to select their partners for the mating season. The aquarium’s exhibit is home to two breeds of penguins, macaronis and gentoos. Both breeds will mate only with their own kind, and the couples will remain together throughout the breeding season.

This year there are 19 penguins of breeding age. “This means one female is going to be left out,” Lee said. “We don’t really know who will end up together.” Aquarium staff anticipate having about 14 eggs, but Lee said it’s normal to only have a handful of chicks hatch. Once the eggs hatch, the chicks will stay under the protection of their parents for 10 weeks, hardly  moving.  Hunter Hays, 12, was visiting the aquarium on Thursday with his family. He and his younger brother stood at the glass walls of the exhibit and watched as the penguins frantically carried rocks in their beaks. “It’s really cool seeing how the penguins build their nests,” he said. “But I don’t think I want a penguin for a pet. I bet they could get annoying and would be kind of loud.”

Spring and Penguin Romance Is In The Air

March 28, 2012

It happens every year for people and penguins alike. Spring arrives, the weather gets warmer, and hormones start pumping.  It’s penguin breeding season and we’re taking you to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago for a sneak peak as to what penguin mating season is like.  Just like their penguin (and people) cousins in the wild these males have to woo their ladies with just the right rock.

Checking out nest building materials

Yeah, that’s right penguin dudes.  If you like your lady.  Really like your lady,  then you need to show her with a special rock before anything happens.  No wonder we like penguins.  When we male humans love someone, we also get all dressed up and present our lady love with a special rock (although our rock is a bit more expensive).  Just like humans, once the rock is accepted, it’s time to get started and build the nest.  During nesting season, male Rockhopper and Magellanic  penguins at the Shedd launch into an all consuming frenzy in search of the perfect rocks and sticks to build their nests.  To begin the annual mating ritual, Shedd’s penguin care experts place dozens of small,

Choosing that special rock

smooth river rocks in the penguin habitat for the animals to create the perfect nest.  The week-long war of the rocks will culminate with numerous nests throughout Shedd’s popular penguin exhibit and it even involves some penguin on penguin rock pilfering, as the fella’s can get ruthless, coveting and stealing other penguins rocks to make their nests the best. Eventually, it all evens out and everyone has a fine nest, although some may be finer than others (just like us).  Once the nests are completed, it’s time to lay the eggs and wait.

Spring is here and love is in the air