Cape Royds Nest Check 2015-16

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.

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. Every season presents new mysteries to solve, join us as the 2015-16 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 2015-2016 Nest Check penguin breeding season at Caper Royds. We have arrived very late this year so did not see the eggs being laid. Most of the females have already left the colony to forage for food leaving the males to brood the eggs. A few females have returned as there is open water at the entrance to the colony. These birds will have an easy time going for food as they will not have to walk to the open ocean. This is good news for this years parents.

Today is the last day for the 2015-16 Nest Check activity at Cape Royds Adelie Penguin Breeding Colony, Ross Island, Antarctica. Of the 10 nests we have 16 almost-grown chicks which is above average for this colony. Our parents withstood two alrge storms and several Skua attacks and were able to keep their chicks safe and well fed. Join us nest year as we select another 10 pairs of penguins ad watch the season unfold.




Cape Royds Nest Check | Bird Biography-Nest History

Click HERE to see 2014-2015 Weather Archives

Jan 18
snowing, windy from SE
Jan 17
clear, breezy from SE
Jan 16
clear, breezy from N
Jan 15
clear, windy 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
This male, banded #1050, has raised chicks the last three years and been in our study before. He has made a strong nest near the same spot as the last two years and we belive he has the same mate. When we arrived this year the eggs were already laid. He is 13 years old, hatched in 2001 and returned to Cape Royds in 2003 as a 2 year old. Follow along as he raises his family. He has been named Blissard and his mate is Snowball by the 5th grade students in Amy Adkins class in Oak View, West Virginia. Dec 24 The chicks have hatched. One is named Happy Feet by the students in Sandra Sullivans class, Kuss School, Fall Rivers, MA, and McDonogh by the students in Ms Irving's class at McDonogh School in Baltimore, MD

Nest #2 Band #4235, Male

penguin nest

penguin nest

This male has been in our study before, is 8 years old and is using the same nest site as last year. We did not see the eggs get laid so we do not know when the chicks will hatch. This is a good breeding colony and he has a strong nest. The pair have been named Ralph and Snowy by the students in Dorothy Courtox and Kristin Hortsch's classes at St Anthony Catholic School in Tigard Oregon. Dec 26. The first chick has hatched. He has been named Waddle by Ms. Bullers class at McFarland Intermediate School, Bordentown, NJ. Dec 28, the second chick has hatched. She has been named Ms Pepper by Ms Bullers class as well.


Nest #3 Band #3943, Female

The banded female is 11 years old and rasied her first chicks in 2009-10. We have seen her before and she is in the exact same nesting site as last year. We arrived too late to know when the egg was laid, we will have to wait and see when the chick hatches. Her name is Darcy, and her mate's name is Joey. They were named by Ms Runfola's 1st grade class at Davenport Ridge Elementary School, Stanford, CT. Dec. 29, the first chick has hatched, the second chick will hatch soon. They are namedTux and Snowflake by the students in Mrs Stab class at McFarland Intermediate School, Bordentown, NJ
Nest #4 Band #5160, Female
This female is 8 years old and raised one chick last year which was her first successful nest. She was seen in 2010, 2011 and 2012 but did not have a nest. Her name is Lily and his mate is Jojo. They were named by Susan Withnell's class at Linton Springs Elementary School in Skyesville, Maryland. The chicks probably hatched on Jan 3, 2016. The female chick has been named Mikoto by students in Yoshiro Miyata's class in Chukyo University, Toyota, Japan. The male chick is Bishnu( बिष्णु ) from Govinda Panthy's students in TriKA School, Tripur, Dang, Nepal

Nest #5 Band #5221, Male

This banded male is 8 years old. He was sighted at Cape Royds last year, and in 2011 and 2012, but failed to raise a family. He was not seen in 2013. He has made a nest in the Seaview colony, which is exposed to the Skuas, but he is in the middle. We do not know when the eggs were laid. They are Zach, and Ella named by the students at Episcapal Day School, Paris, Texas. Dec 23, The first chick hatched, Dec 24, the second chick hatched. Their names are Froyo and Chilly suggested by the students in Nikki Schaefer's class at Scott Elementary School, Scott AFB, Illinois
Nest #6 Band #5085, Male
This banded male is 8 years old, has been seen in the colony since 2009, but has failed to raise a family. The Seaview breeding group is exposed but his nest is sturdy and he has neighbors to fend off the Skuas. The pair has been named by the children in Sandy Sullivan's class at Mathew J Kuss Middle School in in Fall River Massachusetts. The male is Flipper and the female is Winter. Let's wish them luck in raising a family this year. Dec 24, the first chick has hatched. She has been named Fluffy by the students in Judy Barrere's Middle School class in Kirkland, WA. Dec 27. The second chicks has hatched and he has been named Elephant by the students in Abby Sajovic's at Grayslake MS , Grayslake IL.
Nest #7, Band # 4337, Female
This female is 9 years old and was in our study last year. She raised chicks the last three years so we hope she and her mate can do it again. They have a very good nest in the 'Center Field' nesting group close to the center where it will be hard for the Skuas to get to them. Her name is named Slidder and was named by the students in Amy Rosenstein's 3rd grade class at Concrod Elementary School, Ardsley, NY. The male is named Ceery by the students in Blair Smith's classroom, Monto, Queensland, Australia. The chicks hatched Dec 20 and are name Eva and Wall-e by the students in Reinhard Max's class in Sudern, Germany.
Nest #8 Band #2774, Male
This pair is new to our study. The male is 15 years old and was first seen in the colony in 2005. He has had several failed nests and a few successful nests in the last few 10 years. They have a good nest in the Lakeshore breeding group and we wish them luck in raising a family there. The male has been named Jackson by Lorraine Leo's class in Jackson School, Newton, MA. The female is Mordovia, named by Mikhail Timonin's students in the Tarkhanovo Secondary School, Republic of Mordovia, Russia.
Nest #9 Band #4202, Male
The banded male is 9 years old and has been seen in the colony yearly from 2010 through 2012 and again in 2014, but he has never had a nest. This is his first time. The nest is in the Bronx breeding group and they have some good rocks around them to help keep the Skuas away. The male is Pablo and his mate is Kimchi. They were named by the students of Emily Perry and Ms Poknis at Thomas Viaduct Middle School in Howard Co Maryland. Dec 31, after 35 days this chick has hatched. She has been named Tundra by the students in Ms Ricks' class at Howard R. Driggs ES in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Nest #10 Band #5138, Female

This banded female first laid eggs in 2013, but the nest failed. She came to Cape Royds last year, but did not breed. This is a wonderful nest near a large rock which will help protect her eggs from the Skuas. The pair have been named Princess and Walden by the students in Suzanne Tefs class at Walden Academy, Willows, Calif. The first chick has hatched Dec 17, 2015. His name is Bandit from the students in Crystal Padilla's 3rd grade class, Chysalis Charter School, Palo Cedro. Calif.








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Picture of the Day.

If you would like to see all the pictures from this year go HERE.

Jan 18, 2016. Our last day. A large snow storm has created mud in the colony. All of our chicks were able to stay dry.

Hungry Chicks. Adelie Penguin chicks need 60 pounds of food to grow and fatten up before they can be on their own. Parents have to work hard to bring in enough food for them. Here is a parent coming back from the ocean with a belly full of food fro his chicks. It is my job to find out what the penguins are ffeding their chicks so I follow him to the nest and watch. Krill = pink, Fish =silver. The last few days have all been fish.

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

Nest #1

penguin chicks

Happy Feet and McDonogh are awake and staying dry.
Nest #2
penguin chicks
Waddle and Ms Pepper are trying to keep dry after the storm.
Nest #3


penguin chicks

Darcy near the nest, Tux is gone. Snowflake is staying dry after the storm. She is in front of this group.
Nest #4
penguin chicks
Jojo is here with the chicks. Mikoto is staying dry under Bishnu.
Nest #5
Chilly, and Froyo are with their friends, they are on the left. ( No new picture today)
Nest #6
penguin chick
Fluffy is with her friends, she is on the right.
Nest #7 .
penguin chicks

Eva and Wall-e are with their friends, they are in the center. Some of these chicks are wet.


Nest #8

Jan 18 We have been watching this nest every day. Mordovia is still trying to hatch these eggs. They may not have been fertilized, or perhaps they got too cold at some point, or many other reasons. We mark this as a failed nest for the breeding pair. Jan 18 there are still two eggs, but she kept them dry in the storm.
Nest #9
penguin chick

Pablo is on the nest. Tundra is a little bit wet.

Nest #10

penguin chick

Bandit is big and fat, this is good. Walden is here.