How do Penguins breed and reproduce? A question often pops out in our minds that how does a penguin increase its number? Human mind is a machine full of curiosity. When a single thing knocks its door, it starts to follow and know more about that thing. Such a curious question pops up in mind that how do penguins breed.
Like all other animals, penguins also have the natural ability to increase their number by breeding. This process takes place in the mating season. It starts with the male penguin approaching towards the female penguin. It convinces the female to mate by bending his head down towards his toes. If the female agrees, it also approaches toward the male penguin in the same way. Now the male touches its body with its flippers and the female penguin bends towards the ground and lets the male sit on it. Then both of them copulate and this process takes place many time until the female lays eggs. The eggs hatch into chicks and the life cycle continues. This is how the penguins breed.
Does breeding process vary with types?
According to research, there are around 18 species of penguins around the world but it has been seen that all the species reproduce and breed in the same way.
Season for breeding:
The breeding season for penguins is usually the Antarctic summer (October to February). It has also been see that some species of penguins also mate in winter season. The male penguins usually approach first and wait for female penguins to arrive at the colony. Some species of penguins that build nests, they return to their previous nests in the mating season and wait for the female penguins to arrive. The male penguins also make their nests more presentable for the female penguins.
Places for breeding:
As we know that there are about 18 species of penguins and most of the species not live in Antarctica but on islands. Therefore, the habitats for breeding are different for different species of penguins. The emperor penguins that live in Antarctica usually breed on the Sub Antarctic and Antarctic islands while majority of the species that live on different islands also breed there. A few species of penguins inhibit temperature region and the breed there. A single species of penguins called the Galapagos Penguins live in the equator region and breed there.
Complete Process of Breeding:
Breeding is a natural process that all animals go through. Penguins are mostly aquatic animals that lack the nature to fly but like other birds they possess the natural quality to breed and increase their number.
Breeding age for penguins:
The age for breeding varies with different species of penguins. The average time for a single penguin to be able to mate is about 5 to 6 years. But the mating age is influenced by the size of body as the emperor penguins reach full maturity at the age of 5 years but the little blue penguins reach the maturity at age of about 2 to 3 years therefore, the smaller the size of penguin is the sooner it will reach maturity and breeding. However, some penguins take even about 8 years to reach complete maturity.
Soon as the male penguins reach maturity they start finding their partner. As the penguins live in colonies, so they don’t find it difficult to find a partner for themselves. As mentioned earlier, the species that make nests often go back to their nests and wait for the female to arrive.
Learn more about How do Penguins Sleep?
Choosing of Partners:
This thing is also worth clarifying and worth mentioning that penguins tend to keep a single partner during a whole season or during their whole life time. A clear example of this is the Emperor Penguins that live together for their lives and understand each other. But it has also been seen that some females mate with 2 to 3 male penguins during their lifetime and some male penguins mate with 2 to 3 female penguins during their lifetime.
When a male penguin reaches full maturity he goes out in search of female penguin in order to mate. It is mostly on the male penguin to attract and convince the female penguin to mate. Therefore, they start emitting loud vocalizations to attract the female penguins. All the male penguins start to do the same. They are differentiated by their different voices. The larger males emit deeper noises as compared to the smaller ones. This ritual takes place for about 2 to 3 weeks.
Among different species of penguins, three types of behaviors have been noticed and observed:
The male moves the head energetically while vocalizing and thus warning other males to stay away from their place.
Both male and female perform movements at the same time to draw attention to one another.
Characterized by the inclination of the head and the placement of the beaks together, in an attempt to reduce the tension between them and reduce the chances of aggression.
Importance of Song Quality:
For the species of penguins that don’t build nests, the quality of songs is very important, as it has been observed in research that female penguins can tell how fat the male penguin will be just by their song and they can also tell for how much could the mail be able to babysit the eggs.
Process of Mating:
Once a female chooses her mate, the pair will go through an important ritual, in which the penguins bow and call to each other. The ritual helps the birds get to know one another, and learn their respective calls so that they can always find each other.
Ritual complete, the pair then mates. The female will lie down on the ground and the male will climb on her back and walk backward until he gets to her tail. The female will then lift her tail, allowing the penguin’s sperm to be transferred. In case of Emperor penguins, the female has to hold her balance and be still for some time or else they will not be able to mate. This process takes place many times until the female lays egg/eggs.
After the female lays one or two eggs, the male will take the first incubation shift. In species that don’t build nests, the adults incubate by balancing the eggs on their feet. Incubation duties are shared between the parents in all species except one. In Emperor penguins, the male takes care of his egg for two months without feeding himself relying on his fat. The female goes to bring food while the male guards the eggs.
The incubation period varies differently with different species of penguins. The eggs of Erect Crested penguin take about 1 month to hatch while in case of Emperor penguin, the period is about 62 to 67 days.
After some days the eggs hatch and the babies emerge. The baby penguins are called chicks or more commonly, baby penguins. A chick usually takes 3 days to leave its shell. At that time, its body isn’t covered with feathers. They are then taken care of by the parent penguins. As the penguins usually live in colonies so mostly they make a nursery in which all the babies are kept and warmed by the adult penguins.
The case of the emperor penguin is unique. After the female lays the single egg, she carefully transfers it to the male for incubation. If the egg drops or touches the cold floor during the transfer, it immediately freezes and dies. After delivering the egg, she travels to the sea for food. Meanwhile, the male fast during more than two months of the incubation period, until the mother returns from the sea and the chick breaks the shell, then the father goes to the ocean for feeding. The male survives all this time, thanks to its fat reserves, but it loses up to 45 percent of its body weight.
Do all penguins breed at the same places?
This fact is not true as all penguin species don’t breed at the same place as others. We can see as the breeding seasons of penguins are different so by the temperature changes they all breed in their specific times of the year.
Nesting Sites of penguins:
- Emperor penguins are more likely to live in Antarctic region with has an ice sheet having protection from the winds.
- King penguins like to live and breed in sub Antarctic and Antarctic lands free from ice and snow.
- Gentoo penguins are most likely to be seen nesting in ice free places, grounds and islands. Their nesting spots have also been seen on valleys and cliff tops.
- Chinstrap penguins like to nest on steep slopes.
- Galapagos penguins like to nest in volcanic rocks and its surrounding areas.
- Fiord land crested penguins nest in a wet, coastal rain forest habitat, under bushes, between tree roots, in holes, or on rocky coasts among rocks or in caves.
The temperate and little penguins like to nest in underground burrows. These species nest in the area where the climate ranges from tropical to sub Antarctic. These underground points provide sufficient warm environment for the eggs to incubate.
Some Humboldt penguins like to nest in sites created from fecal deposits. If you still have any question related to How do Penguins Breed, feel free to ask in comments.