They sure are growing fast. In fact this yellow-eyed penguin father is standing outside his box now while the chicks are inside which is particularly handy when it is raining - and it has been very wet.
This box was sponsored some time ago and finally this year a single yellow-eyed penguin male has taken residence. It is always the first step to breeding: find a house and occupy it, then try to attract a mate. He probably considers himself somewhat successful because he is enthusiastically incubating a dummy egg: this will prevent him getting jealous of the families in the neighbourhood and keep him from trying to take over chicks - this has happened in the past (with fatal consequences for the chicks in the ensuing fighting) and the dummy eggs keep the single males occupied and the chicks safe. It's now December and the chicks have grown a lot and these bachelor boys will be giving up their eggs now and hang about in the colony hoping to spot a unattached young female in the general traffic that they could entice to their abode.
This is a special family - like we had last year: those of you who have been following us know that we have had some male-male pairs in the colony in past years that we use as foster parents. This is one such pair and they are raising Chicky's second chick because she is only 2 years old and her mate has not bred in many years. So having the boys raise her second chick means her workload is a lot less and this will increase her and her chick's chances of survival. These two dads are doing a fantastic job and the chick is growing fast.
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.