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November 10, 2010

African penguin Reproduction: Egg Incubation


African penguins incubate eggs by covering them with a brood patch. This is a patch of skin that lacks feathers and becomes infused with blood. When a penguin is standing it is not easy to recognize this patch. However, in the photo above the male penguin has not yet developed his brood patch and the female has already. Often , the female develops her brood patch in conjunction with egg laying. In the penguin with the band on her left wing, you can see a slightly swollen “line” in the center of her belly going to in between her feet. When incubating eggs, whether it is the male or the female, the penguin stands over the egg, stretches its brood patch over the eggs and lays down on top of them. Because they cannot completely cover the egg, they also often stand enough to rotate the eggs then lay on top of them again. The eggs must remain at about 97-98 degrees Fahrenheit for 37-38 days in order for chicks to hatch out. -Pamela Schaller

Filed under: CAS Penguin Colony — Penguins @ 9:24 am


  1. Hey Pam, yer doing a great job keep up the hard work!

    Listen, what’s your ‘reasoning’ for the silver and orange/red ‘balls’ that are in the penguins’ area, thanks?

    Comment by Kelly — November 18, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  2. The balls are for the birds to chase around both on land and in the water. They are part of our enrichment plan for the penguins. Encouraging acitivity and brain stimulation.-Pamela Schaller

    Comment by Penguins — December 2, 2010 @ 10:21 am

  3. My class is studying penguins and we visit your site each day. We have a couple of questions:
    1. Is there salt water or fresh water in the tank?
    2. Are they incubating eggs currently?
    3. We thought we saw a nest with eggs in the webcam in the rocks, but feel that wouldn’t be the case because they incubate them under their brood pouch. What are we seeing?

    Thanks so much! We love being able to have the audio for the feedings!!


    Comment by Shaunna — January 13, 2011 @ 5:17 pm

  4. Hello Shaunna, Thank you for watching our penguins, I hope your class is learning from our programs. 1)The tank is 24,000 gallons of salt water 2)We have one couple currently incubating eggs, but these are not fertile 3) African penguins create a nest on the ground or dug into the ground (called burrows); they lay down on top of the eggs to protect the eggs and keep them warm. We have had a few inexperienced (very young) penguins that have made nests on the ground in our exhibit. But most of our older couples make nests in the covered, protected burrows that we provide.-Pamela Schaller

    Comment by Penguins — January 18, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

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