Field Notes, page 2

These are questions that researchers try to answer.  Use your creative thinking to come up with your own answers. Use your journal to respond to these questions.


Click the picture to read the answer to these questions.

11. When researchers want to know what animals eat 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 leftover chick food regurgitated by the parent. We know from past experiments that if it is pink, the penguin is eating krill, if it is gray, they are eating fish.

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?

12. One important piece of information is how much penguins eat, how long do they forage before coming back to the nest, and how much do they feed the chicks? Part of the colony is fenced off with only this gate to go through. These birds have electronic tags inside them which are read by the sensors when they go through the gate. They also step on a scale so we know how much they weigh when they come and go.

Why is this information important to researchers in understanding penguins and their life cycle?

13. Another piece of the puzzle is where the penguins go to feed. We see them walk across the ice and disappear and then return, but we do not know how far out they swim or how deep they dive. This sensor records where the bird goes and how deep they dive. We have to catch the bird to put it on and take it off. It’s taped to the birds feathers and does not harm the bird or hinder it’s swimming.

If researchers see changes in what the birds are doing from one year to another, this would be a signal that something is happening in their habitat. Why is this information important to penguin researchers?

14. Penguins are very 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?
15. At Cape Royds there are some areas with plenty of nest sites, lots of small stones and rocks for protection but no birds. In this picture you see one area where Adelie penguins have built their nests and one area 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?