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Penguin Calls

August 11, 2010

The steadiness of a male Adélie penguin’s call is what attracts a mate.


The sweet song of a lovelorn penguin…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

During breeding season, a male Adélie penguin builds a nest out of rocks and then calls to attract a mate. Emma Marks, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, wanted to know what makes a penguin call particularly alluring. In a study published in the journal Behaviour, she found that fatter penguins tended to have steadier sounding calls.

(Penguin call)

EMMA MARKS (University of Auckland):
If you were a female, you could listen to a call and make a good guess as to the condition of the male, and therefore his potential to be a good mate.

A fatter male can incubate an egg for the long periods when his mate is away searching for food. That means a better chance for a chick’s survival – the sign of a good penguin dad. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.