The Molt Is On
CAPE ROYDS, ROSS ISLAND, ANTARCTICA–
Penguin chicks are born with a fine cover of small soft feathers.
In a few days they will loose those feathers and grow wooly thick gray ones. These feathers will keep them warm for the next few weeks, but are not waterproof.
Before the chicks can be on their own, swimming in the ocean and catching food, they must loose these feathers and grow their adult plumage. Adult feathers are strong, dense and waterproof.
During this stage these birds are a source of entertainment for us as they we call them the ‘awkward teenagers,’ each one with its own sense of style.
Adult feathers take a beating during the course of a year in Antarctica. Wind, ice and water take their toll, and each year adult Adélies lose the old feathers and grow new ones. This bird will stay on land or an ice floe as he is unable to swim until the new feathers grow in.