Pygoscelis  Breeding Behaviour
Home Up Aptenodytes Breeding Behaviour Pygoscelis  Breeding Behaviour Eudyptes  Breeding Behaviour Spheniscus  Breeding Behaviour


Here you will find a general description of the breeding behaviour of Pygoscelis Penguins.

The pygoscelid penguins build their nests from whatever material is available. Since these penguins nest on the edge of the Antarctic continent (Adelies) or on southern sub-Antarctic Islands, the choice and availability of nesting material is very limited. Nests usually consist of a rough circle of stones. The value of these stones can be judged from the fact that they are offered as presents during mating and re-bonding rituals. Stones are frequently stolen by penguins from other penguins' nests. The nests are usually quite close together, the separation of nests being determined by the reach of a penguin sitting on its nest.

Two eggs are usually laid and both are hatched. In most years a good proportion of pairs will manage to raise both chicks. After hatching one parent will brood the chicks for a day or two while the other is at sea collecting food. The parents change duties after each feed. One parent remains with the chick until it is large enough to join a creche to provide some protection from the elements and from the patrolling skuas.

The chicks quickly gain weight and moult. They then go to sea and do not return to the breeding grounds for two or more years when they are ready to start looking for a mate. The parents leave the colonies once the chicks are ready to fledge, but return a week or so later, having fattened themselves up, to undergo their own annual moult.

More details specific to Adelie , Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins can be found on the pages with detailed species notes.