As the chicks get older they grow denser feathers and at three weeks old they can regulate their own body temperature and don't need to be brooded by the parents anymore. Under the parent's belly is still the best place though but it gets a bit tight like for Mandy and her two chicks here: one has given up trying to be under the belly, but the other still wants to be there!
Thor and her mate gave us a bit of a surprise last week: they had left their chick home alone. While this inevitably happens eventually the chick was a little young: only 4 weeks old. It is cause for alarm because it can mean one of the parents has died and Thor is only a 2-year old and her mate had not bred in many years. So we weighed the chick then and there and again two days later and it had increased it's weight from 1.7kg to 2kg and we breathed a sigh of relief. The chick obviously was not starving and on the second visit one parent was home again. We will continue to keep a close eye on this family and will take the chick into rehab if it starts loosing weight. Hopefully that is not going to be necessary for another few weeks. Yellow-eyed penguin adults make much better parents than us. Fingers crossed!
This super-sponsored yellow-eyed penguin family - mum is Chiara - has one of the oldest chicks in the colony and though they had to be treated, they are now doing fantastic. Stewie Junior lost his wife from last year and hooked up with a wee 2-year old who laid him two fertile eggs. This is somewhat unusual as many 2-year old females lay only one egg and even if she lays two eggs, often one or both are not fertile. Not Ciara, she had two and both hatched and are now thriving.
It's almost December and we are now getting to our favourite time of year with cuteness overload as the chicks are growing so fast. These two chicks are doing very well under the watchful eye of dad on this occasion while mum is out fishing.
If you are wondering about the little bag hanging over them there, this contains citrus-based smell salts that we are hung up to deter the mosquitos as we had avian malaria kill adults and chicks last year. It's been a cold and wet November which hopefully made mosquitos less likely to breed in big numbers. We also treat all standing water with stuff that ought to kill the eggs and larvae.