The photo is of “Dunker” lifting his beak into the air and fluffing its head feathers outwards. The behavior is described as an Ecstatic display. This is usually performed while a penguin is in its territory. It is performed after another bird threatens, or if many birds are also displaying. The primary function is advertisement, attracting females, or stating territory ownership. This young bird is displaying after being challenged by another young male. The juveniles are currently challenging each other for dominance and for territory. This is observed frequently for the first few years of their life.
All of the penguins in the Academy’s exhibit are captive hatched, some are even seventh generation. The Academy has had 108 chicks hatch out since 1983. These birds stay either at our facility or move to another as part of a cooperative breeding program (see Species Survival Plan blog). The photo is of Dunker and Safara at 4 weeks old. They are now juveniles and are on exhibit. Dunker is the penguin that looks like he has a small bald patch on his lower back, he has an orange wing band on his right wing and a white band on his left wing. He sustained an injury when he was young and the feathers grow less densely in this patch. Once he molts (which is due soon) he will replace those feathers and look the same as the rest of the adults.-Pamela Schaller