Our adorable Humboldt penguins have just laid some eggs and we can hardly contain our egg-citement! We know you’re curious about these precious little eggs, so we’re here to give you the scoop – just in time for International Penguin Day!
Here are our top five fascinating facts about penguin eggs and what you can expect when these chicks hatch!
1. Penguin eggs are always white
Did you know that all penguin eggs are white, no matter the species? The reason for this is seriously cool. For penguins in colder climates, the white hue helps their eggs blend right into their icy surroundings, giving pesky predators a tough time spotting them. But for warmer climate penguins, the white colour acts like a superhero cape, reflecting sunlight and keeping those precious eggs from overheating.
2. Most penguins lay two eggs at once
Most penguin species lay two eggs each breeding season, which runs from March until August. The only exception is Emperor Penguins, who usually only lay one egg. And who can blame them… raising a chick in the Antarctic winter is no easy feat.
3. Penguins decorate their nests with feathers, leaves and their own poo
When it comes to building their homes, penguins get pretty crafty. They’ll gather rocks, pebbles, and all sorts of odds and ends to create a cosy circular or oval-shaped nest. And to make things even comfier, they’ll add some fluffy grasses, feathers, and, wait for it… their own poop! Yep, penguins aren’t afraid to use their own guano to line their nests and keep their little ones snug as a bug. Now that’s what we call resourceful parenting.
4. Penguins are the ultimate co-parents
When it comes to parenting, penguins are serious about teamwork. They take turns incubating the eggs for weeks, and when one penguin is feeling a little chilly or hungry, the other will step in and take over. And the teamwork doesn’t end once the eggs hatch – mum and dad will continue to work together to care for and protect their little fluff balls until they are strong enough to fend for themselves. Talk about power couples!
5. The shape of penguin eggs varies depending on the species
And last but not least, let’s talk about the shape of penguin eggs. While most eggs are oval-shaped, Humboldt penguin eggs are pear-shaped. Why? So they can fit more snugly in the nest, of course! There’s nothing like a good snuggle to keep those little ones warm and cosy.
So when will we see penguin chicks in Newquay?
Keepers first spotted eggs in our Humboldt penguin enclosure back in March, so it won’t be long now until we hopefully welcome some adorable little chicks into the world.
After being in their cosy eggs for about 40 days, the little fluff-balls will start using their egg tooth (a tiny, pointy part of their beak) to break through the shell and enter the world.
At first, the chicks will be completely reliant on their parents for everything – warmth, protection and delicious meals of regurgitated fish and krill.
Mum and dad will take turns caring for their little ones, snuggling them close to their brood patches to keep them warm and happy.
As the chicks get older, they’ll start developing a fluffy layer of downy feathers that eventually gives way to sleek, waterproof ones. After a few months, these little guys will be much bigger and ready to explore the world on their own.
Once they’re old enough to leave the nest, they join a crèche (a fancy name for a group of penguin babies) where they continue to learn important life skills and make new friends. These little ones grow up so fast… before you know it, they’re fully-grown and ready to leave the nest to find their own place in the world.
It’s important to note that not all penguin eggs will hatch. Sometimes the eggs may not be fertilized or there may be other issues that prevent them from developing. However, our keepers are doing everything they can to ensure the best possible chance of hatching success. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be welcoming some fluffy new additions to our penguin family soon!