Monday, November 26, 2007

The Mating Ritual of Adelie Penguins

Who needs diamonds when you could get a nice big rock? Adelie Penguins present a rock at the foot of their future mate to secure their position as the penguins lover. The Adelie penguins are the smallest of the penguins living on the Antarctica continent. There are over 2.5 million breeding pairs living in the Antarctica region. Penguins are monogamous animals, meaning that they chose one partner and remain with this penguin for the rest of their lives. Once the rock has been laid at the foot of the female, the two partners will stand belly to belly and perform a mating song. The actually mating ritual is very selective. The male Adele penguin must chose one female out of a colony of more than a million penguins.

The Adelie Penguins are migratory animals. They travel from the winter quarters on the Antarctic ice pack and arrive at the rookeries during September and October. Once at this site, the penguins make the nests which consist of stones piled together. The male penguins must guard their pile of stones very carefully for other males often try to steal these stones and rocks to present them to their future love. Male Adelie’s attract the female by sounding out a low guttural noise followed by a cry. Males that have already found a mate and are simply reuniting, perform a different mating ritual. These reunited love birds will stand breast to breast, heads thrown back, singing loudly, with their flippers outstretched and trembling.

The female Adelie penguin lays typically two eggs. These eggs are laid around November. The eggs are brown or green in color. Both parents take turn incubating the eggs. The mother and father switch off keeping the egg warm. Typically, the female penguin returns to the sea before the male. In March, the Adelie penguin family returns to the sea and migrate to their spring home in the Antarctic. The mating ritual process continues every year, with a new collection of rocks for each new generation of penguins.

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