Penguin Reproduction

There are some great qualities of penguins found in their reproduction process. They can mature for reproduction from about 3 to 8 years of age. Generally the smaller species of penguins will mature at a younger age than the larger ones. However, the smaller ones also seem to have a life span that is much shorter.

A number of species only mate with the same partner year after year. This is very different than other animals or birds on Earth that we know about. They can find these lifelong partners out there even when there are thousands of penguins at the mating grounds. While most of them have a specific mating season, other species can do so any time of the year. Some can also create offspring two or three times annually rather than just once a year.

Mating of penguins.

Penguins mating.

The courtship is usually one that starts out with some type of calling and communication to each other. These types of calls are very fascinating. In some species there is aggression when it comes to competing for the right to reproduce with particular partners. The males try to attract the females by preening themselves, building nice nests, and their vocal communications. The females are the ones that choose who they will end up mating with.

All penguins lay eggs once conception is successful. They may lay one or two eggs at a time. The size of them will vary too depending on the type of penguin you are talking about. The eggs have to be incubated for a period that can be from 25 to 45 days depending on the type of penguin. A male Emperor penguin incubates the egg for 64 consecutive days until hatchling. In all penguin species both the male and the female take turns caring for the eggs until they mature.

It is very important that both of the pair return in a timely manner to take over their turn. Many eggs are abandoned when the partner fails to return and the other has to leave it due to severe hunger that is life threatening to them. During this time the eggs are very vulnerable to a variety of predators.

Those offspring that are successfully incubated are able to remove themselves from the eggs when they are ready. It can take them several days to fully emerge from the egg. They are either naked or have very few feathers so they must be protected from the sun and the cold by their parents. They are fed food that the parents have partially consumed until they are able to hunt on their own. The age for that will vary for each species of penguin.

Penguin chicks.

King penguins, adult and chick.

Most of the time it comes down to the survival of the fittest. That means that even if they have more than one egg, only one of the offspring is going to survive. This is the one that the parents will feed and focus attention on as it has the greatest chance of one day thriving on its own. The specifics of what they will do depend on the food that is available and the type of penguin tending to the offspring. However, penguins are very good parents and give them the attention they need. They also do their best to keep them fed and to keep them safe.

In many species of penguins, the lack of food or threats to their environment will trigger them to stop the reproduction process for a while. This will continue until the stressful dangers have been removed. As a result you can see significant reductions in the numbers of certain penguins due to such environmental factors. This is why protecting their environment is very important.