The Work We Do
Every year, before we leave the Adelie Penguin breeding colonies on Ross Island, we band several hundred chicks. The bands are made of steel and have a number etched in them. They do not harm the bird nor hinder its ability to swim or hunt for food.
When we return, a large part of our job is to find the banded birds. This means walking through the colony with binoculars and looking at the left flipper of each bird. How many bands can you find in this picture?
At Cape Royds there are only about 2000 birds so one person can look at all the birds in a few hours. At the larger colonies it may take a team of searchers a week to look at each bird. Then the process starts over as the birds come and go and we do not want to miss any.
Throughout the years we track where the birds go, when they start to reproduce, how long they live, and how many chicks they produce during their lifetime. For more information on banding and Adelie penguin research go to:
Postcards from the Field: Adelie Penguins 2008