Cape Royds Nest Check 2014-15

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.


Cape Royds Nest Check | Bird Biography-Nest History

Click HERE to see 2014-2015 Weather Archives

Nov 29
clear, calm winds from the S
Nov 28
clear, strong winds from the S
Nov 27
clear, strong winds from the S
Nov 26
-2 3 980 50 clear, winds from the SW
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.

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.


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. er
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.

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.
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 Maryland. The male is Flipper and the female is Winter. Let's wish them luck in raising a family this year.
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 mate still needs a name.
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.
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. This pair does not have names yet.










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Picture of the Day.

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

Nov 29, 2015.

Mt Erebus. This is the southern most active volcano in the world and is the backdrop for our research station at Cape Royds. It makes it's own weather and provides us with fantastic cloud formations, new ones everyday.

Mt Erebus


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

Nest #1

penguin nest
Blissard on the nest.
Nest #2
penguin nest
Ralph is on the eggs.
Nest #3
penguin nest
Joey on the nest.
Nest #4
penguin nest
Lily is on the nest.
Nest #5
penguin nest
Zach is on the eggs.
Nest #6
penguin nest
Flipper is on the eggs.
Nest #7 .
penguin nest

The male is on the eggs.


Nest #8

penguin nest
Mordovia is on the eggs, Jackson is nearby
Nest #9
penguin nest

Kimchi is on the nest, Pablo is standing nearby

Nest #10

penguin nest

The female is on the nest, the male is nearby.