Adelie Penguin

Pygoscelis adeliae

Adelie penguins are the smallest of the penguins living on the continent of Antarctica. They were named after the wife of a French explorer in the 1830’s. These penguins nest and breed on the rocky, ice-free beaches in large colonies of tens of thousands of birds. They are powerful swimmers and can jump straight out of the water onto the land. They often move on the land by sledding down hills on their bellies. They don’t drink water, but eat snow. Adelie penguins are capable of diving to depths of up to 175m but usually feed within the upper 70m of the water column.

Adelie Penguins arrive at their breeding grounds in October. Their nests consist of stones piled together. Sometimes the competition for breeding sites gets so fierce that mothers will steal stones from neighbors’ nests. After bonding and mating, the female lays two eggs in the nest. In December, the warmest month in Antarctica, the parents take turns incubating the egg; one goes to feed and the other stays to warm the egg. The parent who is incubating does not eat. When parents return with food for the chicks they will run from the chicks making the chicks chase and catch them for the food. Often only one chick will survive. Their chicks grow the fastest of all penguins.

The above picture was taken at the San Diego Seaworld, in March, 2004.

Genus Pygoscelis
Family Spheniscidae
Order Sphenisciformes
Class Aves
Subphylum Vertebrata
Phylum Chordata
Kingdom Animalia
Life on Earth