Natural History

The Penguin Cam Penguins: Adelie Penguin

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Adelie Penguin

Get to know the five Penguin Cam species, all of which spend at least part of their lives in Antarctica.


At 2 feet in height, Adélie penguins are the smallest of the five Antarctic species. They are mostly black with a white belly. You can easily spot them in Penguin Cam by the white ring around their eye and by their unique bill. Their bill is mostly hidden by black feathers, which makes the exposed tip look like red lips. Adélie penguins also have a long tail.

Next to emperors, Adélies are the most southerly distributed of all penguin species. There are over 5 million of them in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica.

In Frozen Planet, male Adélie penguins come ashore in early spring to build their rocky nests on the few exposed areas found along the coast. The males will even steal rocks from one another's nests to make sure their nest is the best and biggest when the females arrive in late spring.

When the mating season begins, male Adélie penguins will salute the females with a display of beak-thrusting, neck-arching and fin flapping. The chosen males mate while the others continue to flap and arch in vain. In a month, the female lays her egg, then goes fishing while the male incubates the egg through summer.

VIDEO: Criminal Penguin

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