2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Researchers from the University of Washington, observing the behavior of the Galapagos penguins, found that grown and fledged chicks sometimes continue to return to their nests and beg for food from their parents. Parents, in turn, may agree. If there is enough food around, they feed their dependent children. Article published in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology.
Galapagos penguins are the only penguin birds that live almost at the equator. The rest of their relatives prefer much colder latitudes. The half-meter Galapagos penguins inhabit mainly the islands of Fernandina and Isabela, where they swim in relatively warm water, eat fish and crustaceans, find a mate for life and raise their offspring with it near the coast. The total number of Galapagos penguins is only one and a half to two thousand individuals, and they are endangered.
The air temperature in these places rarely drops below fifteen degrees, but mostly keeps around twenty - twenty-five. Unfortunately, penguins are not able to fully enjoy the warm air and bright sun - on the contrary, penguin bodies adapted to the cold have to take all measures in order to cool down. By stretching their fins and bending, they block the paws from drying sunlight, and also breathe deeply, emitting a characteristic puff to properly ventilate the airways. In the water, they are saved by the cool Cromwell current.
Many other seabirds continue to pamper their reared chicks, but so far, out of eighteen penguin species, only gentoo penguins have been found to behave like this. Until recently, it was believed that the rest of the penguins (as well as petrels and storm petrels) never feed the chicks after they left the nest, but now feeding the already adult offspring has been found in the Galapagos penguins. Despite the fact that there are no more than a thousand married couples of such penguins, scientists have made sure that going to their parents for unauthorized food is not an accident, but a pattern, albeit a rare one.
These behavioral features of the Galapagos penguins seem to be associated with the uneven and often unpredictable distribution of resources throughout the year. Due to the equatorial location of these islands of volcanic origin, the climate around them is constantly changing, and times are hungry, then abundant. When there are few fish near the archipelago, parents most often peck at fledgling children who stick to them or do not pay attention to them, and sometimes even open their mouths, but give them nothing. Also, children do not receive anything if the parents are busy molting or have already moved from their former nests and are afraid of predators. But if well-fed times come, the parents do not shed and are still in place, then they strive to make life easier for their offspring - in response to characteristic pleading cries, they share with children, almost as large as they are in size, the food they get. Children wait for them in the afternoon not far from the place where they emerge from the water, just after the hunt. Since penguins distinguish each other by their voices, scientists believe that they ask for food from their parents. Perhaps such a relationship allows adolescents to quickly learn to hunt on their own, without suffering from hunger, when they still do not know how to do it. Parents thus ensure the extension of their kind in an even more reliable way.
This feature of the Galapagos penguins, perhaps, allows them to maintain their numbers in an unpredictable climate. They live in rather modest and at the same time, at the same time, unusually hot and dry territories, unlike, for example, climber penguins, so closer family relationships can be a way for them to survive more effectively.