Image courtesy of Jean Pennycook

From: Jean Pennycook
Cape Royds, January 9, 2007

Fluffly is Cute, But it Doesn't Work in the Wind

Penguins are not the only ones raising their chicks at Cape Royds, Antarctica. Families of Skua ring the colony and prey on first the penguin eggs, and then the penguin chicks to feed their own. The two eggs in the upper right photograph above are a Skua nest. You can see they do not build a rock nest like the penguins, but just lay them on a bare patch of ground. When the Skua parent stood up, this newly hatched chick rolled five feet out of the nest as the wind caught its light fluff-ball body. As I watched, the chick struggled against both the wind and its weak legs to get back under the parent. It ended up climbing through the wing from behind until I could no longer see it. The whole event took about eight minutes and the parent seem oblivious to the fact that her chick was lost or had come back.

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Postcards from the Field: Antarctica

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