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Penguin Quandaries Jean Pennycook

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1 Penguin Quandaries Jean Pennycook

2 Researchers spend many hours watching birds to determine their behavior patterns. Test your inquiry skills with the field questions about penguins in this presentation to see how your answers match those of the scientists. Discuss your answers with your classmates. The scientists answers are in the notes at the bottom of each slide.

3 This brooding penguin is showing the "incubation patch." The egg nestles into this area when the penguin is laying on the eggs. Give some reasons why this part of their body is not covered with feathers?

4 The penguin at the left built the nest on top of a four foot snow drift. What do you think will happen to this nest, egg or chick as the season progresses?

5 Many of the nests in the colony have these white markings around them. Why are they there and what causes them?

6 This penguin has built the nest away from any group. Do you think this is an advantage or disadvantage for successful chick rearing?

7 There were two eggs in these nests. In the one on the right the first chick is 2 days old. The second one is beginning to hatch. In the nest on the left one chick is 3 days older than the other. Write down some advantages to being the first born. Think of some advantages to being the second born. Make a decision, would you rather be the first or second born penguin? Justify your decision.

8 Some birds breed all year round and may hatch their chicks in any month. In some Adélie colonies, half of all eggs are laid within a 6-day period in November, and all are laid within about a 2 week period. This picture shows a nest with chicks several days old and a nest with un-hatched eggs. The main predator in this colony is the Skua, and the summer is very short. Make a list of advantages and disadvantages for chicks to hatch early in the season? or later in the season? What short and long term advantages are there for penguins to synchronize their hatching date?

9 This penguin has been on the nest for 3 days over the normal limit. The mate may not return. The drive to raise chicks may soon give way to the drive for food. If this adult leaves, the egg will surely die. Penguins are probably not capable of making a conscious decision like you and me. Make a list of events that would trigger this penguin to abandon the nest.

10 When researchers want to know what animals use for food they can either watch them eat, or examine their stomach contents. We cannot watch penguins eat and to examine their stomachs would harm them. This picture shows chick food regurgitated by the parent. We know from past experiments that pink means krill, gray means fish, and spend many hours waiting for these observations so we know what penguins are eating. How important is it to know what penguins eat? What if we had no idea what they ate? Would it make any difference in understanding how to protect them in the wild?

11 Penguins are graceful and fast swimmers. They swim to catch their food. Do you think they ever swim for fun? Why did you answer the question the way you did, and how could you test your answer?

12 In penguin colonies there are some areas with plenty of nest sites, lots of small stones and rocks for protection but no birds. In these pictures you see areas where Adélie penguins have built their nests and areas where they have not. Make a list of some reasons why the penguins chose the area they did. If you wanted to test your ideas, what would you do?

13 These chicks are too big to stay in the nest. You can see the once tidy piles of rocks are now spread everywhere. The adults you see in this picture are non-breeders, they did not have their own nests or chicks. Why are the chicks in a large group and what are the non breeders doing?

14 The adult penguin in this picture is fresh from feeding in the ocean (notice the wet feathers). Chicks will chase any adult returning from the ocean asking for food. How does an adult penguin know the chicks chasing them are their own?

15 This pair of chicks are the same age, but not the same size. The time for growing is almost over as the Antarctic winter is approaching. Why is there a difference between these chicks from the same family? What do you think will happen to the smaller chick as winter approaches?

16 Penguins gather at the ice edge in large groups before going in. Their food is in the water, but danger lurks in the form of leopard seals, who wait for the penguins to jump in. Penguins pace back and forth waiting for one bird to make the decision to go, then they all go. What advantage is there to being the first one in? the last? in the middle?

17 This is an average nesting group in the colony. What are the advantages of having a nest in the center? What advantages are there to the nests on the outside? If you were a penguin, where would you build your nest?

18 Nests measure about 1 meter center to center. Why arent they closer together, why not further apart?

19 These birds are on eggs. Which way do you think the wind is blowing?

20 These birds are in the middle of a large snow storm and both have chicks in their nests. Which way is the wind blowing?

21 This chick is about 1 week old. If the second egg hatched now, the new chick would be very small and weak compared to the first one. What chance do you think a second chick would have for survival?

22 For more field pictures and inquiry questions to solve go to our website and the Field Notes Activity:

23 Other PowerPoint presentations for you classroom: 1.Introduction to the Polar regions, Why is Antarctica so cold? 2.Introduction to Adélie Penguins, Adélie Penguins march into the classroom 3.Penguin Adaptations, This is a harsh continent 4.Adélie Penguin Behavior, Good manners are always in style 5.Penguin Predation and Competition, Life is tough for an Adélie Penguin 6.Adélie Penguins Cope with Global Climate Change 7.Did You Know, How researchers know what they know 8.Penguin Quandaries, Can you answer these mysteries 9.Fun pictures about Adélie Penguin Go to The education page.

24 To learn more about Adélie Penguins go to

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