How Do Emperor Penguins Raise Their Young?

emperor-penguins-raise-young Credit: Christopher Michel/CC-BY 2.0

Emperor penguins perform several duties in the course of raising their young, including incubating the egg, feeding the chick regurgitated food, protecting the chick from predators and teaching it to hunt. Emperor penguins hatch and raise their young in the harsh winter environments of Antarctica.

After the mother lays the egg, the father is responsible for keeping the egg warm for the next two months. The male emperor penguin balances the egg on his feet and covers it with a warm patch of feathers known as the brood pouch. During this two-month span, the females are on an extended hunt and the males go without food to protect the egg.

The female penguins return to the breeding site with a belly full of food that they regurgitate into the mouths of the newly hatched chicks. It then becomes the male's turn to hunt for food while the female stays and watches over the hatchling. The parents take turns hunting and caring for the baby.

Once the chicks are around two months old, they gain some independence and start venturing out without their parents. Members of the penguin colony keep watch while the parents hunt for food. The young penguins fully transition to independence during the summer months when they join the rest of the colony to swim and hunt.