Thursday, January 20, 2011

Penguins in Love - Chapter Two












Following the "immense popularity" (over 800 hits!) of my previous post Little People of Antarctica - In Love we will explore today what happens after all that cooing and flirting.


Penguins are social birds, and while they spend much of the winter on their own, when summer arrives they return to the same shore where they last had their nest within the colony of their friends. In a sign of life-long love, the male returns first to start building a nest, while the female dives in the ocean for a last minute serving of fish and krill. The male waits for the female, but she'd better come home on time - If she takes too long, the male just hooks up with another female in the neighborhood. OK, we're not perfect! Who said that "life long" was literal? Look at the warranty of certain things made in certain countries!

But the moment comes, and it's time to start a family again.  The male usually takes the female to the side and asks in his deepest voice: "You don't mind doing it in front of everyone else, do you?" (click on any photo to enlarge it)















I guess the answer is "I don't mind as long as you kiss me on the mouth." The following picture is rated PG-13.
























Then, the happy moment arrives and the female lays an egg or two. Usually, the male and the female split their time nesting, letting the other take a bath in the ocean, catch some food, etc. However, the male has another important role, which is to keep fortifying the nest. Since Home Depot is closed in Antarctica for the summer, the male just steals rocks from other nests!


Here is how it's done: the male strolls the neighborhood innocently, until he sees a GREAT rock in a nest. He sneaks from behind, knowing the female will not leave her egg to fight him, and steals a rock! The poor nesting female can only roll her eyes and look up and feel unhappy:




















The male then rushes back home, telling HIS female "here honey, look what I brought you!"




















Then he adds "ooh, that was hard. I think I'll go to the beach to wash myself." Of course, he in fact is going ot have a beer with the guys.

The female, in the meanwhile, takes real good care of her egg, waiting for the summer to go on as planned. Notice how she puts the egg on her feet, instead of the frozen earth.






















You could see all this yourself - all you need is to be there! Just you and the penguin:























Read my post Countdown To Antarctica to see how you can do that, too.

3 comments:

  1. Great pics. I actually bought a world map to explain to my three years old where this whole thing is taking place.

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  2. Great VC, intrepid traveler, impressive photographer, and witty author - you are a multi-talented man in the best of Renaissance traditions!
    Peter / Boston

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  3. Aha! The philosophy of a relationship - you draw a good comparison! Great gentoo photos.

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