These penguins are either brooding
eggs or small chicks, one can just be seen peeking from under it's
parents brood flap in the bottom-middle of the picture. The other
birds have noticeably bulging brood flaps that will be protecting
eggs or chicks too. Eggs are laid in May and June, they are the
smallest relative to body size of any bird, being around 0.4kg (1.1lb)
just under 1.5% of the mass of an adult bird.
At this point, the males take charge
of the egg. No nest is built and the egg is incubated on the feet
of the parents, a special fold of abdominal skin covers the egg
to keep it warm. The mother penguins then set off back to sea and
do not return until July.
Emperors with their valuable eggs sit huddled together on the
ice throughout the dark weeks and months of the Antarctic night.
The average temperature is around -20°C (-4°F) going
down to -50°C (- 58°F) and with winds that gust
up to 200km per hour (124mph). The males do not eat at all throughout
this time, but just sit and wait and protect their egg, (later the
chick) until their mate comes back to relieve them.
This picture by Jerome Maison. ©
2005 Bonne Pioche Productions / Alliance De Production Cinematographique.
From the Warner Brothers film The March of the Penguins used
here by permission of
Warner Bros - March of the
Picture book of the movie