King Penguins
The Falklands

It All Begins With A Walk

   Well, maybe not quite. But it seems that way as we watched mated pairs of King Penguins stroll around the periphery of the colony at Volunteer Point, a "day trip" from Stanley, the largest city in the Falkland Islands. 

The King Penguin is the second largest Penguin species after the Emperor Penguin, standing just over three feet in height and 30-35 lbs in weight.

Most King Penguins can be found on the sub Antarctica islands which includes the Falkland Islands, the Prince Edward Islands and South Georgia Island.

Volunteer Point is home to the largest King Penguin colony in the Falkand Islands, with 400 mated pairs.

King Penguins males are usually larger and heavier than the females, but sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference.

The King Penguin has a stately, upright posture and it was not uncommon to see several standing closely together as if in conference.  At an appointed time (known only to them), the group would  walk together to another nearby location and the "conference" would convene once again.

A most common sight was a mated pair strolling around the colony... one closely behind the other.

Quite often they would be perfectly in step with each other, but not always.

Before the stroll had progressed for very long,  a mating ritual would ocur. The two would begin to rub heads.

Leaning into each other, the two would begin a slow circling dance, head to head.

The dance would continue.....

.....for several minutes.

Then, what appears to be the female, would take a firm grip on the head of the male.

The male would then returns the favor, much to the chagrin of the female... 

....who appeared to be ready to continue the stroll.

However, the male was insistent....

....and the female would finally give in to his attentions.

But not for long. And the stroll would continue.

If all goes well and the mating is successful, the result is a single egg. King Penguins do not build nests. Instead the single egg is incubated on their feet. The male and female take turns with the incubation which lasts from 50 to 60 days.

Chicks are totally dependent upon their parents for food and warmth. The parents will feed their chick by eating fish and regurgitating the partly digested food into the chick's mouth.

The chick will spend the next 30 to 40 days perched on  the feet of their parents, before they become capable of being on their own for any amount of time.

Eventually, chicks will form groups called creches, and will spend their days together while their parents are out foraging for food.

It will be 14-16 months before the King Penguin chick ia actually ready to go to sea and provide for its self.

Because of the long breeding cycle, King Penguin colonies tend to be continuosly occupied.

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