Growing Penguins Timeline
Preparation Directions for Instructor:

Print these pages in color for each student group and cut the photographs and descriptions apart along the dashed lines to separate the photos and descriptions. Consider laminating all for repeated use.

These photographs and descriptions are for use in the Growing Penguins Timeline activity, a Windows to the Universe resource for educators. For full description of the activity and directions for classroom use, please visit:

The photographs in this activity were taken by Jean Pennycook, an educator with the Penguin Science research team. The descriptions are loosely based on the Postcards from the Field that Jean contributed to Windows to the Universe. For more information about the Penguin Science Postcards from the Field, visit:

December 11, 2006

This egg has been sitting in a nest made of rock since October. Now it has started to hatch! Do you see the crack in the shell? It will take about twenty minutes for the tiny Adelie penguin to break out of this shell.

December 12, 2006

The first Adelie chick of the season has hatched. Do you see how tiny it is next to its parent? The chick has only downy black feathers which are no match against the cold Antarctic winds so it will spend a few weeks under its parents keeping warm.

December 20, 2006

These two chicks have almost doubled in size since they hatched a week ago. They are snuggled up together and are having trouble fitting in the parent's incubation pouch which is their only defense against the cold. It will be another few days before they can stand on their own, and another 10 days before they will be walking around the colony.

December 24, 2006

This chick is two weeks old and can stand on its own! Only one chick at a time can now fit within the parent’s incubation pouch, so this chick is stuck outside while the other is under its parent. Soon both parents will be foraging for food to meet the demands of these chicks, and they will be left alone.

December 29, 2006

These chicks are getting large, but still have their downy grey feathers. When they stretch their beaks up high, like the one on the right, they are nearly as tall as the parents! They need a huge amount of food to grow this fast. At this point they are big enough to fend off attacks by birds of prey called Skuas, although some Skuas will attack them anyway.

January 7, 2007

These four chicks huddle to stay warm. The huddle is called a crèche. Staying in a crèche also protects them from birds called Skuas when their parents are away looking for food. Today it is particularly cold and windy, so the chicks have packed themselves closely and shove each other to get towards the middle where it is warmer.

January 10, 2007

The wings of this 4-week-old Adelie penguin have grown so long that they touch the ground when he is standing. Soon his body will grow into that wing.

The chick in the right picture isn't dead; it's sleeping. He's just tired from all the eating and growing. The chicks spend much of their time sleeping.

January 20, 2007

These two Adelie penguins are about in the awkward stage between a chick and an adult. They are shedding the grey downy feathers that they had as chicks and growing the sturdy waterproof feathers that they will need as adults. Some have started in the front, some have started on their backs, Some start around their heads, and other on their wings.

February 6, 2007

Now it is time for the Adelie chicks to test the strength of their wings in the water. The waves catch the chicks and carry them out to sea. Sometimes the chicks come swimming back, not quite ready to take the plunge; others do not return. They have made the transition to adulthood and swim out to sea.

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