Cape Royds Nest Check 2016-17

Cape Royds is a small colony of about 2100 nests. It has declined in size since 2000, when there were 4000 nests. The decline was due to a large iceberg that grounded about 60 km (40 miles) north and caused McMurdo Sound to be completely ice covered. This made it difficult for Royds penguins, who had to walk much longer distances than they like. Therefore, many penguins left Royds to find nests in colonies closer to open water. In 2007 water was much closer, only a few kilometers away, penguins started to return to Cape Royds. In 2008, the open water was again about 75 km away and the penguins had to walk further to get here, many decided not to, and there were fewer nests. About half of the nests that were started were lost as the brooding parent could not wait for the foraging parent to return. Hunger forced them to abandon the eggs. We have had several good years with the open ocean close to the colony so the penguins have not had to walk far to get here or forage for food.

The open water was about a 2km from the colony at the start of the 2009 season and made it much easier for the penguins to reach the colony, but for some reason egg laying was delayed by several days. This also delayed hatching and meant that many chicks would not be ready when the winter conditions closed in. In the 2011 season we had the biggest chicks we have ever seen as the ocean was close and food was plentiful. The 2013-14 season also provided early open water so it was a good year for the penguins, but we saw more Skuas than usual and predation was heavy. At the start of the 2015 season the open ocean is at the entrance to the colony. These birds were able to swim all the way to get here without walking (takes more energy to walk) and will have an easy time going for food to feed the chicks. Nov 2016, we arrived to find the open ocean at least 70 km north of the colony. This may be another year like 2008.Every season presents new mysteries to solve, join us as the 2016-17 season unfolds.

Click HERE to see archived weather histories, HERE to see penguin families from 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014

If you would like to see some of the postcards and flags that have been sent to Cape Royds, Antarcitca by children all over the world go HERE andHERE

Welcome to the 2016-2017 Nest Check penguin breeding season at Caper Royds, Antarctica. Our team arrived at Cape Royds, the southern most penguin breeding colony in Antarctica, on Nov 8. Since then we have been trying to get our internet going and today Nov 12 we are on line. Not all of the Nest Check pairs have been selected yet, so please be patient. Here are a few to get started with. The colony is full of birds and egg alying has begun.





Cape Royds Nest Check | Bird Biography-Nest History

Click HERE to see the Weather Archives for 2016-2017

Dec 4 -5 5 994 70 clear and calm, breeze from S
Dec 3 -1 20 996 42 clear, winds from the SE
Dec 2 -8 10 995 80 snowing, winds from the S
Dec 1 -6 6 986 72 overcast, breeze from S
Click on any picture to see a larger version or the Nest # to learn more about the penguin family.
Nest #1 Band #1050, Male
penguin nest penguin nests
This male, banded #1050, has raised chicks the last four years in our study. He has made a strong nest near the same spot as before and we belive he has the same mate. The first egg was laid Nov 9, the second on Nov 11. He is 14 years old, hatched in 2001 and returned to Cape Royds in 2003 as a 2 year old. You can compare how this pair raised chicks in the past three seasons by clicking HERE. HERE and HERE. This pair has been named Izzy and Max by the students in Susan Withnell's class at Linton Springs ES, Sykesville, MD.

Nest #2 Band #4235, Male

penguin male

penguin nests

Nov 3, 2016 (picture on the left) the male has built a beautiful nest and is waiting for the female to arrive. Nov 9 (picture on the right), the female has arrived, probably the same mate as last year. This pair has also been in our study before, the male is 9 years old this year and is using the same nest site as last year. This is the Home Ranch, a good breeding colony and he has a strong nest. You can compare previous seasons of this banded pair HERE, HERE and HERE. The first egg was laid on Nov 16. The male is Toby and the female is Echo. They were named by the students in Travis Hargreave's 4th grade class at Cheery Creek Academy, Englewood, CO.


Nest #3 Band # 5111 Female

penguin nest
This banded female, #5111, is 9 years old. She has been seen in and around the colony since 2012 but has never raised a family before. The nest is in the Hilton breeding group and they are surrounded by several other nests so good protection from the Skuas. Eggs were first seen on Nov 13. Can you find the banded pair in the photo on the right? This pair has been named Hermine and Rudolph by the students in Reinhard Marx's class at the Realschule Sundern, Sundern, Germany.
Nest #4 Band #6449, Female
penguin pair penguin nest
This female is 7 years old and was frist seen back at Cape Royds in 2012. This is her very first nest. When we arrived on Nov 9 she was in a different nest. Nov 10, she moved to a new nest with a new mate. They are in the Seaview breeding group near the edge of the colony with easy access to the ocean. First egg was laid Nov 11. She is new at this, lets wish her luck. Second egg was laid Nov 13.

Nest #5 Band #29809, Male

penguin nest
This banded male is 9 years old. He has raised a family before in this location, including last season, but was not in our study then. Their nest is in the Uptown group and is an open area with little protection from the Skuas besides each other.You can compare this season with his nest in 2014 HERE. First egg was seen Nov 14. This pair has been named by the 4th grade classes at Scott Elementary School, Scott AFB in IL. The female is Snowball and the male is Slushy.
Nest #6 Banded male #5195
Male banded #5195. This male is 9 years old and successfully raised a family last year. He was first seen in the colony in 2010. The first egg was seen on Nov 16. This pair has been named by the students at the Episcopal Day School in Paris, Texas. They are Jewel and Skipper
Nest #7, Band # 4687 Female
This female is 10 years old and although has been seen in the colony the last two years, she has not had a successful nest. Let's watch her as she tries this year. The first egg was laid on Nov 10. They are in the Cliff breeding group, a large group at the north end of the colony with many successful breeders. Second egg was laid Nov 13.
Nest #8 Band #5221, Male
This male is 9 years old. He was first seen in the colony when he was a 4 year old, but has only raised one family since then. He and his mate have a good nest in the Seaview breeding group close to Nest # 4. The egg was first sighted on Nov 22, there is only one, and the female has already left for the ocean and a good feed.
Nest #9 Band # 5197 Male
Banded male #5197. He is 9 years old and was first seen around Cape Royds in 2010. He has successfully raised one family and his nest is in the Cliff section of the colony. The first egg was seen on Nov 16. Can yo find the banded male in his nest in the picture on the right?
Nest #10 Band #6646, Female

This female is 6 years old and was first seen in the colony in 2012. This will be her first nest. She and her mate are in the Border Town breeding group and have a very large rock next to them for protection. The first egg was seen Nov 16.








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Picture of the Day.

To see all the pictures of the day for 2016 click HERE

Dec 4, 2016.

Every day we are loosing nests. You can see this breeding group has many empty nests and since this picture was taken we have lost 2 more. We hope the ice breaks out soon, or the crack we observed will have enough food for our Cape Royds penguins. Go to our JOURNAL archive page to see more pictures of brooding parents who have left the colony.

abandon penguin nest
Daily pictures of each nest . To see all the past pictures click on the nest #

Nest #1 Banded Male #1050

penguin nest
Izzy is nesting the 2 eggs.
Nest #2 Banded Male #4235
Echo on the nest, 2 eggs.
Nest #3
Hermine is on the nest, 2 eggs
Nest #4 Banded Female #6449,
Female is back and on the nest, 2 eggs
Nest #5 Banded Male #29809
Snowball, one egg.
Nest #6
2 eggs on this nest, Jewel is here
Nest #7 .Banded Female #4687

Both adults are here, we are so glad the female has returned.


Nest #8 Banded Male # 5221

The female is on the egg.
Nest #9 Banded Male # 5197

Female has returned, one egg

Nest #10 Band #6646, Female

This nest has been abandoned, we are so sad.