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Cape Royds Nest Check 2017-18

Cape Royds is a small Adelie penguin breeding colony of about 2100 nests. It has declined in size since 2000, when there were 4000 nests. The decline occured when a large iceberg 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. Many penguins left Royds to find nests in colonies closer to open water.

In 2007 open water was much closer, only a few kilometers away and 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 during 2007 were lost as the brooding parent could not wait for the foraging parent to return. Hunger forced them to abandon the eggs.

Cape Royds Cape Royds research station ice crack looking for whales looking at me

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 had an easy time going for food to feed the chicks.

Nov 2016, we arrived to find the open ocean at least 70 km (50 miles) north of the colony. 2016 was another year like 2008 with the open ocean and food so far away, parents were not able to return with food in time for the chicks. Over 90%of the nests failed. It was a sad year.

We are eager to see how the 2017 season begins. Every season presents new mysteries to solve, join us as the 2017-18 season unfolds.Click HERE to see archived weather histories, HERE to see penguin families from 2011,2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 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 and HERE.


Welcome to the 2017-2018 Nest Check Adelie penguin breeding season at Cape Royds. Our team has arrived at the southern most penguin breeding colony in the world and are looking for 10 penguin families to follow.

We have started to select the penguin families for this years Nest Check. Join us everyday to see the new families

Cape Royds 2017-2018 Nest Check

Click HERE to see Weather Archives for 2017

Nov 18 -7 24 733 92 clear and windy, winds from SW
Nov 17 -8 30 729 91 snow storm, winds from SW
Nov 16 -9 31 729 90 snow storm, winds from SW
Nov 15 -8 10-45 730 81 snow storm, winds from SW


History of the 10 selected penguin families will be shown below. You can click on any picture to see a larger version. Click on the Nest # to see the daily pictures of this season.
Nest #1 This banded male #1050 has been in our study for five seasons and raised chicks in four of them. Last year they lost their nest as did many of our other families. The sea ice did not break out and the trip for food took too long. It was very sad. Joey and his mate have been at this exact nest location for all of those years. He is 15 years old and was hatched in 2001. Last year the first egg was seen on Nov 9th. You can compare how this pair raised their past nests: HERE. HERE, HERE, HERE
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Oct 30, 2017. Joey is on the nest waiting for Echo Joey and Echo's nest. The Corral nesting group, near a large rock for protection from the Skuas.

Nest #2, Nov 7, 2017 the male #4235 has built a beautiful nest and is waiting for the female to arrive. Nov 10 the female has arrived, probably the same mate as last year. This pair has also been in our study before, the male is 10 years old this year and is using the same nest site as last year in the Home Ranch, a good breeding colony and he has a strong nest. You can compare previous seasons of this banded male HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. The first egg in 2016 was was laid on Nov 16. Let's see what happens this year.



Banded Male #4235 The Home Ranch breeding group. Can you find our baned male on his nest?



Nest #3 This banded female, #3809, was hatched in 2003. She is now 14 years old. She was first seen at Cape Royds in Dec. 2006, but did not breed until 2008. There have been several nests since then, many have failed and last year she bred did not produce an egg. This year she and her mate have a well protected nest in the Rocks. The first egg was seen Nov 9th, 2017. This pair will be named Shrek and Fiona by the students in Shelley Stout's 7th grade class at Mount View MS, Howard Co, MD

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Banded Female at her nest. Nov 5, 2017. Female #3809 and her mate. Nest is well protected from Skuas in the Rocks breeding group.
Nest #4 Male #5000. This banded male is 9 years old and has been seen in the colony before at this nest site and perhaps with this female. Their nest is in the Hilton breeding group and has plenty of neighbors to help protect from the Skuas. They were in our study in 2014-15.  You can see what happened to them HERE. In that season the first egg was sighted on Nov 18th, let’s see how this season unfolds. This pair has been named for the season by Susan Withnell's class at Linton ES, Sykesville, MD. The are Cook and Penny.
Cook arrived Nov 6, 2017, built his nest and is wating for his mate. Their nest is in the Hilton group close to other birds for protection.

Nest #5 Banded Female #2863.This bird is 16 years old, one of our oldest birds. She has breed most of the previous years but not always at Cape Royds and not last year. She was sighted at Cape Crozier in 2005, but then returned to Royds. She and her mate are in the Hilton Group and surrounded by other birds that will help fend off the Skuas. First egg was sighted on Nov 12.

The banded female and her mate with their nest in the HIlton breeding group.
Nest #6 Banded Male #4102. He is 13 years old this year and had nests on and off since 2008. Some were successful at raising chicks and others not. He has built his nest in this breeding group, but not this exact space. We do not know if it is the the same female from last year.
Banded Male #4102 and his mate. Find their nest in the picture above.
Nest #7 Banded Female #3943. She is 13 years old and raised her first chicks in 2009-10. We have seen her before and she is in the exact same nesting site as the last few year. When we arrived at Cape Royds this year there was another female in her nest with her mate.  You can see those pictures below. On Nov 10, #3943 returned and took her nest and her mate back.  We do not know where the female went, and there were no eggs.  We will expect some now.  We will follow her and her mate as they raise their chicks. This year they are named Luna and Pablo from the students in Melanie Poknis’ class at Thomas Viaduct MS, Howard Co, MD
Luna arrived on Nov 11. Can you find Luna's nest?
Nest #8 Female band #72364 and Male #2363. This is unusual for two banded birds to mate and build a nest. This older male (18 years) has mated with other banded females in the past and in this nesting group. The female is only 4 years old so this is her first time raising chicks. Both these birds are new to our study so let's see what happens. Mr. Chris' 2nd grade class at Walker-Winter Elementary School, Canton, Michigan named the male Oreo and the female Cookie.
The male arrived on Nov 8 and his mate showed up on Nov 10. Their nest is right next to Nest #10
Nest #9, This male, band #5197 was first seen at Cape Royds in 2010 and has produced one family. Last season his chick was lost as many others were due to the distance for food. He is 10 years and was first seen this year on Oct 25. His mate arrived on Nov and we fell she is the same female as last season. Last year his first egg was seen on Nov 16th. To see how last years breeding seasons went for this pair go HERE This pair has been named Polar and Fluffy by the 4th graders at Scott Elem. School, Scott, IL.
Oct 25, 2017, Banded Male #3809 Nest in the Seaview group, near a big rock.
Nest #10 This banded Male #6748 is 7 years old and was first seen at Cape Royds in 2015. He was five years old then but did not build a nest. He was agfain seen last year and had a nest with one egg. Many of our nests failed last year and his was one of them. He is close to the place where his nest was last year and with a new mate. Lets watch and see what happens. This pair has been named by the 5th grade class of Kristine Gutherie at Mount Harmony Elementary School, Owings, MD. They are Jack and Waddles

Banded male with his lovely nest. Their nest is next to Nest #8

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Picture of the Day.

To see all the pictures of the day for 2017-2018 click HERE

Nov 19, 2017

Tonight’s Dinner. So many people ask us “what do we eat there?” Well this is a typical meal. Pasta, some scallops, some pesto sauce and some spinach. Yumm. We have a 2 burner camp stove and limited supplies. Remember, everything taste good when you are camping, and in fact it does.

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

Nest #1 Male band #1050

Joey and TWO eggs.
Nest #2, Male band #4235
Male and two eggs

Nest #3 Female band #3809

Fiona is on the nest with 2 eggs, Shrek is here too.
Nest #4Male #5000.
Cook and at least one egg.
Nest #5
Male on the nest, ONE EGG
Nest #6

Male, two EGGs.

Nest #7

Luna and Pablo at least one EGG


Nest #8 Female band #72364 and Male #2363

Cookie and at least one egg.
Nest #9 Male band #5197
Polar, One EGG ?
Nest #10

Jack and two eggs