How do penguins treat their chicks? How do they feed their chicks? How do they protect their chicks against harsh weather conditions? Do they spend time with their chicks? Find out in this detailed article, how do penguins look after their children.
Penguins and Parenting
Penguins love their children. Paired penguins can fight with the predators to protect their chicks. They build unique nesting sites to keep their eggs warm. They not only look after the eggs but also they highly take care of their chicks. Male penguins are even more concerned about their chicks.
It is the nature of all the living creatures that they adore and love their children. In the same way, penguins also show affection and sympathy towards their chicks.
Hatching Out Of The Penguin Chicks.
Chicks of the penguins hatch out very nicely. They make a small hole from inside on the eggs surface, chip at the shell until they can push off the top. They touch the egg shells in a very soft manner and take three days to come out of the egg completely.
Their parents do not help them in this activity as this is a totally natural process and chicks learn new things.
How Do Parent Penguins Protect The Chicks Against Cold
Very fine soft down feathers are present on the bodies of newly born chicks. The chicks of king penguins are an exception. They are born without these down feathers. All the other species have brown, black or grey down feathers of their chicks. Even in the presence of these soft feathers, the chick is unable to repel water. These down feathers are not waterproof and cannot provide plumage to these little creatures. Adult plumage is acquired in a time of one year and parents have to protect their chicks from cold, harsh and wet climatic conditions for the period of one year. So parents spend most of the time with their chicks to remove any difficulty that they might face during this period of their growth.
How Do Emperor Penguins Manage To Look After Their Chicks In The Lack Of Proper Nesting Sites?
There are special kinds of markings and lines on the bodies of the chicks and they possess unique coloration. These characteristics show that they still need the care of their parents and other adult penguins don’t consider them competitive for nesting sites or food. Specific coloration is helpful in showing their childhood and it disappears when the chicks mature. It is also said that chicks’ coloration elicits parental behavior from the adults. The chicks of emperor penguins have even brighter and highly unique markings. What is the reason behind that? As we know that emperor penguins do not have proper nesting sites and they live on the icy surfaces. These markings assist the adult penguins to easily locate their chicks. Nature has embedded certain phenomena in the bodies if chicks so that parents don’t have to worry much about their chicks.
How Do Chicks Identify Their Parents?
Penguins are one of those birds whose chicks need very great attention. Attentive behavior of parents is very necessary for the survival of the chicks. Both the parents are involved in the feeding process. They can recognize their chicks by the specific calls. Every chick has its own distinctive call which makes it possible for his parents to find him. Chicks can also recognize the calls of their parents. In this way, children and the parents cooperate. Adult penguins recognize only their own chicks. They soon teach their chicks to identify their parents.
Penguins Feed Their Chicks Regurgitated Food.
This practice was initially observed in gentoo penguins of Falkland Islands. An order gentoo chicks also provides regurgitated food to its younger sibling. It may endanger the survival of older chick because he himself needs stability and he is not in the proper position to help his younger siblings but in certain cases, when their parents are out for nutritional purposes, the older chicks look after their younger siblings.
In emperor penguins, similar behavior is observed but in a quite different way. As we know that male emperor penguins incubate their eggs. They have to keep the eggs warm for the period of two months. They don’t have proper nesting sites, so
How Is It Possible For Emperor Penguins To Keep The Eggs Warm?
They store their eggs in their feet. For this time span, the emperor penguins don’t eat food properly, don’t go anywhere for any purpose and give all of the time to the eggs. After laying the eggs, the nutritional stores of a female penguin exhaust and she moves to the sea for getting her lost energy back. She feeds and regains her lost energy by spending two months there. She regains her lost energy and comes back to her home after the hatching of the chicks. Sometimes, chicks hatch out of the eggs but the female penguins fail to return on time. Under these circumstances, male penguins start feeding their newly hatch chicks. Despite his fasting of two months, the male penguin secrete a curd-like substance from its esophagus and feed his chicks with this substance. He himself gets weaker and weaker but he never neglects his chicks. He can continue this feeding process for the period of two weeks. After two weeks, usually the female penguin returns and starts taking care of her chicks. Now it’s the turn of male penguin to go out, find seafood and regain his lost energy.
Penguins & Creches
In some species of the penguins, a special grouping system is observed. Partially grown chicks gather in the form of groups called crèches. In this system, many chicks of different penguins gather at a single place. These chicks are guarded and looked after by a few adult penguins. The parents of these chicks go away for getting their food and to bring the food for their children as well. They left their chicks at a safe place just like schools. Here, the chicks also learn to interact and recognize the calls of their friends. These crèches provide some protection against the predators and provide a safer environment to the chicks in the absence of their parents. King penguins make their crèches in the central part of their colonies. They are highly concerned about their chicks. Crèches not only provide safety and protection to the chicks against predators but these creches also provide protection against harsh weather, predation, and aggressive, non-related adults.
King penguins are often harassed by non-related penguins. So they join creche for the protection and well-being of their chicks. It is observed that lonely chicks face a lot.of problems, their survival is difficult and they are often at the risk of predation. Outer portions of the creches are more vulnerable to the attacks of predators and non-related penguin species. A very high competition is observed among the chicks to adjust themselves in the center of the creches. Weak and poor chicks are pushed to the outer portion of the species where they become an easy prey of petrels and skuas. These creches also help the penguins to face harsh weather conditions. When the weather becomes harsh, chicks come closer and spacing among them is reduced. Their parents cover the outer portions of the creche to provide extra protection because chicks lack plumage. Chicks also turn their backs to the winds and come very close to one another.
Some species of the penguins do not form creches. How do the parents of such penguin species protect their chicks? They protect their chicks by making burrows. But this is not possible for the Antarctic penguins as they live in highly cold weather conditions. The penguin species that exhibit burrowing activity include Temperate or subtropical crested penguins, like the macaroni or erect-crested.
Sometimes, the female penguins try to kidnap or adopt the chicks of other penguins. This is because they lose their chicks in some incident and now they love to parent the chicks of other penguins. Parental hormone level is also seen in such penguins which is Prolactin hormone ( also known as parenting hormone).
According to careful survey, 65 bird species have been known to “adopt” the young of a different species.An example is of a king penguin who attempted to raise a brown skua chick.
What message human parents can learn from the penguins?
Human parents can also learn to treat their children from the lives of parent penguins.
A researcher Wienecke says:
“There are marked differences in parenting style and success. Some penguins are definitely better parents than others. So what I am about to describe refers mainly to well established and experienced breeders.”
Human parents should learn the following lessons from the lives of penguins.
- Children should be kept close.
- They should be dealt with care and tenderness.
- They should be fed properly.
- Family always comes first.
- Good communication is necessary to maintain healthy relationships.
This was all about how penguins look after their chicks.