Cape Royds Nest Check 2016-17

Cape Royds is a small colony of about 2100 nests. It has declined in size since 2000, when there were 4000 nests. The decline was due to a large iceberg that grounded about 60 km (40 miles) north and caused McMurdo Sound to be completely ice covered. This made it difficult for Royds penguins, who had to walk much longer distances than they like. Therefore, many penguins left Royds to find nests in colonies closer to open water. In 2007 water was much closer, only a few kilometers away, penguins started to return to Cape Royds. In 2008, the open water was again about 75 km away and the penguins had to walk further to get here, many decided not to, and there were fewer nests. About half of the nests that were started were lost as the brooding parent could not wait for the foraging parent to return. Hunger forced them to abandon the eggs. We have had several good years with the open ocean close to the colony so the penguins have not had to walk far to get here or forage for food.

The open water was about a 2km from the colony at the start of the 2009 season and made it much easier for the penguins to reach the colony, but for some reason egg laying was delayed by several days. This also delayed hatching and meant that many chicks would not be ready when the winter conditions closed in. In the 2011 season we had the biggest chicks we have ever seen as the ocean was close and food was plentiful. The 2013-14 season also provided early open water so it was a good year for the penguins, but we saw more Skuas than usual and predation was heavy. At the start of the 2015 season the open ocean is at the entrance to the colony. These birds were able to swim all the way to get here without walking (takes more energy to walk) and will have an easy time going for food to feed the chicks. Nov 2016, we arrived to find the open ocean at least 70 km north of the colony. This may be another year like 2008.Every season presents new mysteries to solve, join us as the 2016-17 season unfolds.

Click HERE to see archived weather histories, HERE to see penguin families from 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014

If you would like to see some of the postcards and flags that have been sent to Cape Royds, Antarcitca by children all over the world go HERE andHERE

Welcome to the 2016-2017 Nest Check penguin breeding season at Caper Royds, Antarctica. Our team arrived at Cape Royds, the southern most penguin breeding colo

Jan 8, 2017. We only have 2 active nests left in our study. This has been a difficult season and hard to watch as many of the chicks have died and nests have been abandonded

Jan 11, 2017. This is our last day for the 2016-17 Nest Check Activity at Cape Royds. It was a very difficult year with so much sea ice that never broke out. The cracks that opened up saved what chicks were left and they are big and strong, which makes us smile. Perhaps 10-15% of our nest survivied this year, very low. We will be back Nov 2017 with another breeding season, more families to watch and more activities. Come back and join us then.


Cape Royds Nest Check | Bird Biography-Nest History

Click HERE to see the Weather Archives for 2016-2017

Jan 10 0 20 996 45 clear and windy, winds from SE
Jan 9 -1 10 996 65 overcast and breezy, from the S
Jan 8 -3 28 997 78 wind storm, from SE
Jan 7 +1 10 990 70 overcast, wind from N
Click on any picture to see a larger version or the Nest # to learn more about the penguin family.
Nest #1 Band #1050, Male
penguin nest penguin nests

This male, banded #1050, has raised chicks the last four years in our study. He has made a strong nest near the same spot as before and we belive he has the same mate. The first egg was laid Nov 9, the second on Nov 11. He is 14 years old, hatched in 2001 and returned to Cape Royds in 2003 as a 2 year old. You can compare how this pair raised chicks in the past three seasons by clicking HERE. HERE and HERE. This pair has been named Izzy and Max by the students in Susan Withnell's class at Linton Springs ES, Sykesville, MD.

Dec 16. The first chick has hatched (37 days).

Dec 22, The chick is gone, and the second egg is over 40 days in incubation.

Jan 3, our last visit to this nest. Max is here but both Izzy and the rocks are gone. We will look for them next year and hope they have an easier time raising chicks at Cape Royds.


Nest #2 Band #4235, Male

penguin male

penguin nests

Nov 3, 2016 (picture on the left) the male has built a beautiful nest and is waiting for the female to arrive. Nov 9 (picture on the right), the female has arrived, probably the same mate as last year. This pair has also been in our study before, the male is 9 years old this year and is using the same nest site as last year. This is the Home Ranch, a good breeding colony and he has a strong nest. You can compare previous seasons of this banded pair HERE, HERE and HERE. The first egg was laid on Nov 16. The male is Toby and the female is Echo. They were named by the students in Travis Hargreave's 4th grade class at Cheery Creek Academy, Englewood, CO.

Dec 19, Both chicks have hatched. (33 days)



Nest #3 Band # 5111 Female

penguin nest
This banded female, #5111, is 9 years old. She has been seen in and around the colony since 2012 but has never raised a family before. The nest is in the Hilton breeding group and they are surrounded by several other nests so good protection from the Skuas. Eggs were first seen on Nov 13. Can you find the banded pair in the photo on the right? This pair has been named Hermine and Rudolph by the students in Reinhard Marx's class at the Realschule Sundern, Sundern, Germany. Dec 19, both chicks have hatrched. (36 days) Their names are Baou and Olaf named by the students at the College des Baousd,Saint Jeannet, France. Dec 28, Both chicks are gone, this nest has failed.
Nest #4 Band #6449, Female
penguin pair penguin nest
This female is 7 years old and was frist seen back at Cape Royds in 2012. This is her very first nest. When we arrived on Nov 9 she was in a different nest. Nov 10, she moved to a new nest with a new mate. They are in the Seaview breeding group near the edge of the colony with easy access to the ocean. First egg was laid Nov 11. She is new at this, lets wish her luck. Second egg was laid Nov 13. These adults have been named by the students in Emily Perry and Melanie Poknis' classes at Thomas Viaduct Middle School., Hanover, MD. They are Nicloe and Skipper II Dec 18. The first chick is hatching.(37 days)

Nest #5 Band #29809, Male

penguin nest
This banded male is 9 years old. He has raised a family before in this location, including last season, but was not in our study then. Their nest is in the Uptown group and is an open area with little protection from the Skuas besides each other.You can compare this season with his nest in 2014 HERE. First egg was seen Nov 14. This pair has been named by the 4th grade classes at Scott Elementary School, Scott AFB in IL. The female is Snowball and the male is Slushy. Dec 20. The chick has hatched. ( 36 days)
Nest #6 Banded male #5195
Male banded #5195. This male is 9 years old and successfully raised a family last year. He was first seen in the colony in 2010. The first egg was seen on Nov 16. This pair has been named by the students at the Episcopal Day School in Paris, Texas. They are Jewel and Skipper
Nest #7, Band # 4687 Female
This female is 10 years old and although has been seen in the colony the last two years, she has not had a successful nest. Let's watch her as she tries this year. The first egg was laid on Nov 10. They are in the Cliff breeding group, a large group at the north end of the colony with many successful breeders. Second egg was laid Nov 13. This pair has been named Chloe and BillyBobJoe by the 2nd graders in Eleanor Walker's class at Brookwood Forest Elementary School, Birmingham, Alabama. Dec 16, One chick has hatched and the other has stared to hatch. (36 days)
Nest #8 Band #5221, Male
This male is 9 years old. He was first seen in the colony when he was a 4 year old, but has only raised one family since then. He and his mate have a good nest in the Seaview breeding group close to Nest # 4. The egg was first sighted on Nov 22, there is only one, and the female has already left for the ocean and a good feed. This pair has been named Oreo and Domino by the second graders at Clemens Crossing ES, Howard Co, MD. Dec 23, the chick is hatching. Welcome to the world.
Nest #9 Band # 5197 Male
Banded male #5197. He is 9 years old and was first seen around Cape Royds in 2010. He has successfully raised one family and his nest is in the Cliff section of the colony. The first egg was seen on Nov 16. Can yo find the banded male in his nest in the picture on the right? This pair has been named by the students in William Hopper's class at Charles Ellis Montessori Academy, Savannah, Georgia. They are PeanutButter and SugarCane. Dec 20, the chick has hatched (34 days)
Nest #10 Band #6414, Male

Dec 5. We have selected another pair to follow. This Male is 7 years old and was first seen in the colony in 2012. This will be his first nest. He and his mate are in the Cliff breeding group and have many other nests around them for protection. We do not know when the eggs were laid. The picture on the left is the female who is recently back from feeding. Can you find this pair in the picture on the right? Look for the band. This pair has been named by the students at Brookside ES, Yorktown, NY They are Bernie and Brooke. Dec 21. The first chick has hatched.

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Picture of the Day.

To see all the pictures of the day for 2016-17 click HERE

Jan 10, 2017.

Compare this satellite image of our region with the one for Dec 22, 2016 on our Journal page HERE. The ice has not moved. We are winding down our time at Cape Royds and winter is on its way. If the ice does not blow out this year it will be stronger next year. Join us in early Nov 2017, to see the penguins return one more time to breed at Cape Royds.

Daily pictures of each nest . To see all the past pictures click on the nest #
Todays Flag and our last of the season. Made by the students in Ms.Lambert's 2nd grade class at Hillsboro-Deering School Hillsboro, NH. You can see all the flags that flew at Cape Royds this year by going HERE.
penguin flag

Nest #1 Banded Male #1050

Jan 3, One last visit to the nest, Max is here but both Izzy and the rocks are gone.
Nest #2 Banded Male #4235
Jan 9. Echo and Toby are here, cleaner now. Most of the rocks have been taken by other birds, but they are here anyway resting until it is time to feed then molt. We hope to see them back here again next year to try again.
Nest #3
Dec 28, Hermine is here now both chicks are gone. It is very sad for us to see this, yet one more nest done for the season.
Nest #4 Banded Female #6449,

Dec 22 Nicole waited for 19 days, Skipper II did not return in time. The chicks are gone and so is Nicole. We are very sad.

Jan 10, 2017. We never saw either one of these birds again this season,

Nest #5 Banded Male #29809
Slushy is here and this chcik is well on his way. We will hope for the best as winter approaches. We may never see the chick again, but will look for the adults next Nov.
Nest #6

Dec 6. This nest has failed. The adult could no longer wait for the mate to return and has left for the ocean and food. This year we are seeing many nests fail for this reason. We will NOT select another nest.

Jan 10. We have not seen these birds again.

Nest #7 .Banded Female #4687

Dec 30. the adults and all the rocks are gone.

Jan 10, We have not seen these birds again.


Nest #8 Banded Male # 5221

Jan 2. We visit this nest one more time and find both parents on the nest. They may stick around for a while and perhaps molt here. We will not know as we are leaving soon.
Nest #9 Banded Male # 5197

Dec 25 PeanutButter waited for 9 days, SugarCane did not return with food for the chick. The chick is gone and PeanutButter is leaving the nest. This is very sad. We will not visit this nest again.

Jan 10, we never saw these birds again.

Nest #10 Band #6414, Male

Brooke is here with the chick who its growing slowly. This will be our last picture and we hope for the best as winter approaches.