Penguin post - Nesting time
It’s April 15, and you know what that means… it’s time to put nesting rocks in the penguin habitat! Thanks to a nutritious diet, a realistic landscape and exhibit lights that are timed to replicate seasonal changes in day length, the rockhopper penguins are going into mating mode. Each year around April 15, we begin scattering smooth river rocks, small enough to fit in a cupped hand or a penguin’s mouth, throughout the rocky exhibit. Pretty soon the males are picking them up and waddling them over to prime nesting real estate. One male has actually staked out two nest sites. Another, who has been stealing rocks from his neighbors, has constructed a nest in the center of the habitat. We’ve also put out twigs to encourage the two mated pairs of Magellanic penguins. This species nests under shrubs or in shallow sand burrows. The trainers say, however, that these birds are still pretty new to the habitat and may not feel settled in enough to breed this year. Meanwhile, the rockhoppers have decided that the twigs add a nice touch—or maybe feel—to their nests. While the birds are totally serious about this—and even more territorial than usual—it’s a lot of fun to watch. Visit soon!