Cape Royds Nest Check, 2018-19

Cape Royds is a small Adelie penguin breeding colony of about 2100 nests. In 2000 there were 4000 nests. The decline occurred 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 to reach the colony. Many penguins left Royds to find nests in colonies closer to open water.

In 2007 open water was 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 did not, 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.

The open water was about a 2km from the colony at the start of the 2009 season, much easier for the penguins to reach the colony, but for some reason egg laying was delayed by several days. Delayed hatching meant that many chicks were not be ready when winter arrived.

In the 2011 season we had the biggest chicks ever 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. The 2015 season opened with the ocean at the entrance to the colony. These birds were able to swim all the way and had an easy time going for food to feed the chicks.

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

Nov 2017 the ice edge was close and the birds had an easy time arriving to the colony and raising chicks.  It is a good year, with plenty of fat chicks.


We are eager to see how the 2018 season begins. Every season presents new mysteries to solve, join us as the 2018-19 season unfolds. Click HERE to see archived weather histories, HERE to see penguin families from 2011 – 2018. To see some of the postcards and flags that have been sent to Cape Royds, by children, all over the world go HERE and HERE.

Questions about this page? Email me.

Jean Pennycook: jean.pennycook@gmail.com

cape_royds penguins_ice
Cape Royds, Ross Island, Antarctica. Adelie penguins returning to their breeding colony.
Adelie penguins Going for food.
penguin chick
Two penguin eggs in a rock nest. Two Adelie penguin chicks

 

Jan 17, 2019. We have concluded this years Nest Check. You can see the last pictures of each nest here and on the nest archive pages. Join us again in Nov 2019 to watch another 10 penguin pairs as they raise their chicks in Antarctica

Cape Royds Adelie Penguin Breeding Nest Check 2018-2019

click on any picture to see a larger version

 

Nov 15, 2018, We have selected all the penguin families for this year's Nest Check. Let's watch the season unfold.

 

Check out the new book about Adelie penguins and our research at Cape Royds, Antarctica. Joey hatched in 2008 and this story follows his life as he learns to be a penguin, builds his first nest, finds a mate and raises his own chicks. You can see more HERE.

 

Pictures of the Day, Jan 15, 2019

Pictures of the day are archived HERE

The book ends in Jan 2018 when we left the colony, but Joey's story continues. If you would like to see what is happening for Joey and Echo this year go HERE.

 

 

Click on the NEST # to see all the pictures from this season and read more about the history the birds. One bird in each pair is banded as a chick so we know their life story.

 

 

An iceberg has come by Cape Royds. We don't see them very often and certainly not as beautiful as this one. These big chunks of ice break off the Ross Iceshelf or other glaciers that come off the land onto the ocean. This is fresh water and made from 1000's of years of snowfall. 80% of it underneath the water, similar to an ice cube floating in your glass of water.
Nest #1 Banded Bird #62888, Female Nest #1 Jan 17, 2019
The banded female is 6 years old, this may be her first nest. They are Snowball and Rico They are in the Cliff breeding group, can you find her? Dora and Diego are on the nest waiting for their next meal.
This pair has been named by the 7th gr. students in Mrs. Poknis class at Thomas Viaduct MS, Howard Co., Maryland. The chicks have been named Dora and Diego by the students in Anne Schoeffler's 7th grade class at Seton Catholic School.  
Nest #2 Banded Bird #4235, Male

Nest #2 Jan 17, 2019

penguin nest
The male is 11 years old this year and probably has the same mate as last year. They are Harmony (male) and Peace. This pair is in the exact same site they have been for the last 5 years. Mukki is here with Sevgi, they are on the right,
This pair is keeping their names from last year. They were named by the children in the World Peace Song Project, Chukyo University,Toyota, Japan, courtesy of Lorraine Leo. The first chick has been named Sevgi which means 'love' in Turkish by the students at Ahmet Erdem Anatolian High School in Bursa, Turkey. The second chick is Mukki, which means 'child' or 'little one in the Algonquian language and was named by the third graders in the Gilman School, Baltimore, Maryland. They want to honor the Native Americans from the Chesapeake Bay, and the Algonquian people.  
Nest #3 Banded Bird #3809, Female Nest #3 Jan 17, 2019
This female is now 15 years old. This is probably the same mate and they produced one chick last year. They have built a nest a few feet away from last years nesting site, but still in the same breeding group. Apollo is alone on the nest site. He is resting as he waits for his next meal.
This pair have been named Hunter and Icicle by the 5th Grade students in Nikki Schaefer's class at Scott ES, Scott Air Force Base, IL. The chick has been named Apollo by the students in Effie Kyrikakis' class at the Aegean University, Haidari, Greece.  
Nest #4 Banded Bird #4202, Male Nest #4 Dec 7, 2018
This male has used this nesting site for several years, this is probably not the same mate as last year He is just right of the center rock, can you find him? They are Kyle and Tori. Kyle had been on the nest for 35 days without food or water, Tori never returned. Kyle will not sacrifice himself for the egg. He was too hungry and left. The egg was taken by the Skuas within minutes. Now all the rocks are gone as well. This will be our last picture of this nest unless one of the birds returns.
These penguins have been named by the Biology students - from Staedtische Realschule Sundern, Germany, and their teacher Reinhard Marx  
Nest #5 Banded Bird #4877, Female Nest #5 Dec 23, 2018
The banded bird has returned, very near to where the nest site was last year The nest is in the Rocks breeding group. Can you find them? Freeze is on the nest. I have felt something was wrong, but today confirms it. The egg is gone, this nest has failed. Today will be the last picture for this nest. We are sad, but will look for Freeze and her mate again nest year.
They have been named Frost and Freeze by the students in Sandry Sullivan's 6th grade Science class at Old Hammondtown ES in Mattapoisett, MA  
Nest #6 Banded Bird #4012, Male Nest #6 Jan 17, 2019
This male is 14 years old and has been coming to Cape Royds since 2007. We do not know how old his mate is. Their nest is in the Cliffs near other birds in our study. Holiday is here on the nest waiting for her next meal.
The pair has been named by the students in Tammy Rickenberger's class in Fresno, California. They are Cooper (male) and Cali (female). The chick has been named Holiday by the students in Mary-Cahterine Irving's class at McDonogh ES in Owings Mills, MD,  
Nest #7 Banded Bird #29809, Male

Nest #7, Jan 15, 2019

Our male arrives in the colony all clean. He is 11 years old, and this maybe the same mate as last year. The male has built his nest inthe same place for 5 years in a row. Pela and Carson are in here somewhere. This will be the last picture of this nest as I can no longer tell which chicks are ours. They are in there and getting fed, so we wish them a long and healthy penguin life.
These two penguins are named Harper and Declan, by penguin loving students at John Dooley ES in Henderson, NV. The 2 female chicks are Pela and Carson.  
Nest #8 Banded Bird #2363, Male Nest #8 Jan 17, 2019
This male was in our study last year but has a new mate this season. He is 19 years old. He has built a nest a few feet from last years nest site. Ocean and Waddles. are here.
The parents names are Ocean (male) and Galatea (female) submitted by the students in Effie Kyrikakis' class at the Aegean University, Haidari, Greece. The chick has been named Waddles by the 6th grade Science class at Old Hammondtown ES in Mattapoisett, MA  
Nest #9 Banded Bird # 5197, Male Nest #9 Jan 14, 2019
penguin nest
This male was in our study last year and failed to raise a chick. He is 11 years old now and perhaps has the same mate. Their nest site is a few feet away from last years site. They are Alex and Ashley Opal is here and look how long her wing is, that means she is getting older. I do not know where Oynx is but, there is a large group of chicks nearby. I can no longer tell who is who unless they are on the nest. This will be the last picture of this family.. The chicks are getting fed, so we wish them a long and healthy penguin life.
This pair was named by the Second grade students in Mrs Volak's class at JM Grasse ES in Sellersville, PA. The chicks have been named Opal and Onyx by the students in Therese Hood's class at Gateway ES, in Fort Myers, FL.  
Nest #10 Banded Bird #4371, Male Nest #10 Jan 14, 2019
The male has arrived at his nest site and is building a nest out of rocks. Their nest is in the Cliffs breeding group with lots of neighbors

Dawn and Dixie are the one in front and on the left. It is getting very hard for me to tell which chicks are ours. This will be the last picture of this penguin family this year. Join us in Nov 2019 when we will check back to see if Penny and Popper return.

This pair has been named Penny (female) and Popper (male) by the students in Genny Kahlweiss' class at St. Columban ES, in Garden Grove, Calif. They have also named the chicks Dawn and Dixie