[King penguins call] [View of a colony of king penguins. Some preen. A bulge of skin is visible above the feet of some penguins, showing they are incubating eggs on their feet. One individual walks across and out of view of the camera, then others walk in various directions.] [Explore MacaulayLibrary.org]

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Though most birds incubate their eggs in a nest, King Penguins have taken a different approach to keeping their eggs warm and off the frozen ground. After the female has laid a single egg, both parents take turns holding the egg on their feet, under a specially formed bulge of skin. The shifts last anywhere from 6-18 days, giving the other parent time to forage. A chick will continue to balance on its parents’ feet up to a month after hatching.

This video accompanies Chapter 11, Breeding Biology of Birds, Handbook of Bird Biology, 3rd Edition from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Wiley Publishing.

Recorded by Santiago Imberti, Macaulay Library