January 17, 2009
Looking out over the penguin colony, the view has changed dramatically since a month ago. Instead of evenly spaced, black-and-white adults on nests, all you see now are scattered clumps of dark, fuzzy chicks standing around. At this point, the chicks in the colony are big enough that they can stay warm on their own, and their parents spend most of their time at sea gathering food. The colony is starting to feel a bit empty with just a few crisp-looking penguins among the thousands of chicks. Birds whose nests failed earlier in the season, or who didn’t breed this year, have now mostly headed out toward their wintering grounds among the pack ice, far out to sea.
The chicks are still pretty cute, even if they’re getting almost as big as their parents. Some are beginning to look a little ragged, as patches of their fluff comes off, revealing black and white feathers underneath, just like an adult. On a windy day, all that fluff gets into the air, and looks just like a snowstorm.