Penguin Watch Talk

What does an older 'chick' look like? Juvenile?

  • mwocean by mwocean

    Hi - This is a great image. It seems so easy.. not very many individuals and pretty clear except for some in the left backgroung. BUT several of the errect indivudals are smaller and more 'grey' than the others. Are these juveniles? Should they be counted as chicks or adults? I coutned them as chicks, but I thnk maybe that would only be correct if they spend their first pre-fledging season going from egg to fluff-ball to these mini=adults. How should htese be scored, or are they just short adults? thanks


  • AvastMH by AvastMH moderator

    Hello again mwocean 😃

    Ah - what a super super picture of a creche. A classic! A bunch of teenagers with two older penguins doing the baby sitting. I'll blow it up and we can see more detail:

    That's better! 😃

    Well the first thing is that the two adults are clearly bigger and stood to the right. They are very black and white, and not fuzzy and grey, but I will come back to 'fuzzy' later! The chicks are bunched up for comfort and mutual protection. If a predator came along they would all be looking in that direction, and on alert, and possible with beaks open shouting. The two adults would come in to protect their own chicks. Those chicks are in this creche somewhere. The parents will, if it gets very nasty, just protect their own chick, but because they are all stood closely togather the chicks stood with out their parents also get some extra help. This means that the chicks are relatively safe, but the maximum nunber of parents can get out to sea to bring home ever increasing volumes of food for these hungry chicks. 😃

    I've marked those typical differences:

    • 1 = the black feathers on the chin of the adult, but still white on the chick
    • 2 = The continuous black feathers over the shoulder of the adult, but still white on the chick
    • 3 = A nice long fan tail on the adult, a stumpy tail on the chicks
    • HF = The headflash or tiara on the adults

    But, as ever, if you are unsure, please mark it as an adult 😃

    Now - back to fuzzy: the adults need to grow new feathers for the winter. As the chicks finally fledge the adults prepare to molt as well. In the following picture I have noted:

    • 1 = feathers coming out of the back and front (black feathers are mostly white, bar the very tip) which look to be so itchy.
    • 2 = an adult starting to look fuzzy - but you see all the chin feathers are black and the headflash is there and the shoulder is black? This is a molting adult and not a chick. 😃

    enter image description here

    Thanks for your help - I hope you stay with us. We've got this on another platform too - thousands of pictures to go yet! 😃 And your science here does work. Dr Tom Hart has been able to get waters protected from fishing in order to protect the food that these penguins need. And much more - so do give yourself a pat on the back for helping out 😄