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We are Birders - We are Leica

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2012.03.02 18:51:47
Confirmed breeding of King Penguin in Tierra del Fuego, Chile

King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is the second largest member of the family and probably the most beautiful and charismatic species of the penguin world.

This species was considered as a vagrant or accidental visitor to the coasts of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, as every year, a handful of records indicated its presence but no breeding activity was ever documented in the region.

During the last three years (since 2009), a small number of individuals (as much as 70 but usually less than 40) have established in the shores of the huge embayment of Useless Bay, in the Chilean sector of Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia. Their presence had been recorded throughout the year, but peak numbers seem to be reached during the southern spring and summer months (September through March). On the summer of 2010/2011 a significant courtship behavior took place, including pairing, vocalizations and mating, but all further breeding attempts failed mostly due to inquisitive visiting tourists. This year (2012), the area was completely fenced by property owners, resulting in less human disturbance, and consequently allowing the penguins to try to breed once again.

The first eggs of King Penguins were laid by late November / December and the first chicks were seen during January of 2012.

On 26 February 2012, on a recent visit with guests of FS Expeditions, we had the privilege of seeing four chicks and probably other four adult penguins carrying eggs, underneath their brood patch. Besides, we had the opportunity of seeing the protective parents guarding the chicks against the curiosity of other adults. These good news and sign the beginning of the first documented King Penguin colony in South America. Other nearby colonies are found at the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and the world’s largest in located at the remote South Georgia island, in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Claudio F. Vidal, FS Expeditions

 

King Penguin and its chick, 26 Feb 2012 © Claudio F. Vidal, FS Expeditions - www.fsexpeditions.com

King Penguin defending its chick against other curious adults, 26 Feb 2012 © Claudio F. Vidal, FS Expeditions - www.fsexpeditions.com



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