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April 2, 2009

African penguin Plumage: Replacement of Feathers


Penguins replace all of their feathers once a year.  This is called Molting.  It is a penguin’s feathers that provide insulation in cold water and they must be in good condition in order to keep the penguin warm.  Before a penguin replaces its feathers it eats more than normal and gains up to several pounds.  This aids the penguin as during molt the bird does not swim.  In fact for a period of up to 14-21 days the penguin will stay on land and live off of  stored fat until the feathers are completely replaced.  African penguins can potentially molt any time of the year.  “Dunker”, “Adasha”, “Domino” and “Pierre” are currently replacing their feathers.  The photo is of “Pierre”, his wing band has been taken off until he has grown all of his new feathers in.-Pamela Schaller

Filed under: CAS Penguin Colony — Penguins @ 4:25 pm


  1. Great picture. Thank you for this information: It’s thorough and it’s fascinating. The birds are certainly vulnerable during molting. No wonder you dunked Brenton for biting molting birds!

    Comment by Lori — April 3, 2009 @ 2:04 am

  2. Hi Lori, yes they are extremely vulnerable during this time. As a clarification, I never will “dunk” a penguin. However, under the circumstances of a bird biting a molting penguin aggressively, I will intervene and place the persistent, normally feathered penguin in the pool. I want to make sure this is understood clearly for those who may have a varied definition of the word “dunk”. Thanks.

    Comment by pschaller — April 3, 2009 @ 8:13 am

  3. Love the picture of the molting penguin. It’s tough for any bird to go through the molting process.
    Very stressful! But, if you have to molt, this looks like the best place to do it. :)

    Comment by daryl — April 3, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

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