January 16, 2009
Penguins, like many seabirds, look pretty much the same whether they’re male or female. You can often tell them apart side-by-side: the males have thicker beaks, larger heads, and are usually bigger, but there’s a lot of overlap. The only really solid way to tell male from female in the field is when they mate: the male takes the top position and females are on bottom. At least that’s what I’m told…
We see them mating a lot. It usually just takes a few seconds, but requires some balance. Some of the young males are pretty fired up, and I watched one climb on top of a large, fuzzy chick and try to mate with it. The baby penguin looked a little confused. I’ve heard that males will also attempt to mate with carcasses on occasion, but I haven’t seen that happen yet! I’m just glad they make lots of babies.
The Oregonian (daily newspaper of Portland, OR) ran feature about me today – check it out!