Adelie Penguin Click to enlarge image
Adelie Penguin Image: Christopher Michel
creative commons

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    adeliae
    Genus
    Pygoscelis
    Family
    Spheniscidae
    Order
    Sphenisciformes
    Class
    Aves
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    Large 60 cm to 75 cm

Introduction

Like all penguins, Adelie Penguins live at sea for most of the year, swimming underwater with the aid of their flipper-like wings to catch fish.

Identification

The Adelie Penguin is a medium-sized penguin of sturdy appearance. The head does not have a crest but the rear of the crown is peaked, which is characteristic of the species. The head and chin are black. The bill is black with a dark red base and tip and appears stubby because it is covered with feathers for half its length. A conspicuous white eye-ring gives the bird a staring appearance. The feet are flesh pink.

Habitat

Adelie Penguins live mainly at sea, generally within the limits of pack-ice.

Distribution

Adelie Penguins are found mainly at sea in southern oceans around the coasts and islands of Antarctica, and only very rarely appear on the Australian coast, in winter.

Feeding and diet

Adelie Penguins feed mainly on fish, crustaceans, amphipods and cephalopods. They can dive to about 175 m but usually feed up to 70 m below the water's surface.

Communication

During courting the Adelie Penguin call is like a rhythmic throbbing sound.

Breeding behaviours

Adelie Penguins breed in summer, mainly on the rocky platforms of islands of southern oceans. The nests are made out of small stones, and males and females share incubation and care of the young almost equally.

  • Breeding Season: October to March.
  • Clutch Size: usually two
  • Incubation: 36 days
  • Nestling Period: 60 days

Conservation status

Heavy commercial fishing impacts negatively on the food supplies of Adelie Penguins.

References

Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.

Higgins, P.J. and S.J.J.F. Davies (eds) 1996. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 3 (Snipe to Pigeons). Oxford University Press, Victoria.

Slater, P, Slater, P, and Slater, R 1989. The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds.Lansdowne. Revised edition.