Emperor Penguin colony on fast ice by Snow Hill Island, Weddell Sea, Antarctica, October 20, 2007. No other bird lays its egg and raises its chick in the dead of the Antarctic winter. Most chicks in this colony are old enough to be off the parents' feet, but won't fledge and leave for the open sea on their own until early to mid-December. The life cycle was beautifully filmed in March of the Penguins (see especially the behind-the-scenes movie on the DVD). Compare Emperors to Lesser Flamingoes which make mud nests on the scorching-hot soda-mud flats of Lake Natron in Tanzania, where mud temperatures can reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit! Did natural selection favor both such extremes because of protection from predation?
© Gregory G. and Mary Beth Dimijian