Specific characteristics: sound (mp3)
Adélies are the stereotype for a man in tuxedo. They have a white front and a black back.
They have a very characteristic white ring around their eyes, which is most pronounced during the breeding season.
The feathers on the back of their head are slightly longer and can be sticked up a bit.
Juveniles are recognized by their white chin and they don't have the white ring yet.
Small chicks have a uniform grey down.
The bill is short (characteristic for krill eaters), black with red.
Size and weight:
Adult adélies are around 73 cm tall.
Their weight varies during the year. Males weight between 4,4 and 5,4 kg; while females weight a bit less:
between 3,9 and 4,8 kg.
Naming or nomenclature:
The Adélie penguin was firstly described by Hombron and Jacquinot in 1841, who used the Latin name
Adélie penguins owe their name to a woman, who never set foot in Antarctica herself.
When a French expedition, under leadership of captain Dumont dÚrville in 1840 reached the ice frontier,
they discovered an island and named it after their captain. Later on land, they saw a little, fat penguin with a
black coat and a white belly (like an apron), they named it Adélie, after their captain's wife.
Afterwards, a complete region of Antarctica (Adélieland) was named after her.
- Dutch: Adéliepinguïn
- German: Adéliepinguin
- French: manchot Adélie
- Spanish: pingüino de Adelia or de ojo blanco
- South African Dutch: Adéliepikkewyne
- Portuguese: Pinguim-de-adélia
Adélies breed on rocks all over the Antarctic continent.
The total breeding population estimates more than 2,5 million pairs.
Status: stable, not in danger.
Adélie penguins build a rough nest of stones
. They start breeding when they are between 3 till 8 years old.
The males arrive in the colony in the first half of October, after walking tens (30-100) of kilometres over the pack ice.
They nest close to each other between rocks, on hills and ridges in large colonies of up to thousands of pairs.
As soon as they found a suitable nesting place, they start calling out loud to attract a female,
with their bill up to the air and their flippers wide open.
When a female reacts, they call together and bow for each other several times.
(see sexual behaviour
Then mating follows.
End October-early November (6 till 10 days after female arrival), she lays two eggs, which will alternately
incubated by both parents during 32 till 34 days (in shifts of max 12 days).
After hatching, the chicks stay 22 days in the nest, where they are (also alternately) be guarded and fed by one parent
or the other, till they are ready to congregate in crèches.
Such crèche isn't large and mostly includes 10-20 chicks. The chicks are almost daily fed.
They moult to their juvenile plumage and fledge
end January to early February when they are 50 à 60 days old.
In the meanwhile it is summer on Antarctica and the pack ice is broken, so the chicks haven't to walk that far to open sea.
Often you can see a chick with a little of down, standing on a floating iceberg or ice floe, while the chicks often
leave before moulting is completed.
When the breeding period is over, the adult birds leave for a forage trip at sea for about ten days,
before returning mid March to moult themselves. The moulting period lasts around 20 days.
Early April the colony is completely abandoned till early October a new breeding season begins.
Many pairs are loyal for live and return each year to their same old nest.
Adélies feed almost exclusively on krill (99 % of their diet).
Most of the time they forage on a depth between 10 till 40 metres, although their record is much deeper.
They dive for fish during the daytime, when the light is the most bright under water.
When feeding chicks, they stay close to the colony and return daily to the nest.
After breeding they migrate far away from the colony and stay away for weeks.
The adult and juvenile birds are chased by orcas and leopard seals, especially during winter when they are most at sea.
Chicks are robbed by giant petrels, skuas and other gulls.
The sheath bill will try to steal the food, when an adult feeds its chick, and
also cleans up the colony by eating dead penguins.
During the last years, a lot of chicks died of starvation, while icebergs block the way to sea for the adult birds,
forcing them to take a longer road and causing delay.