Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua


Male and female Adélie penguins are hard to tell apart, but aggressiveness, courtship displays, copulatory positions and incubation routines are useful clues.

Adult Adelie


Adults have a black head with white eye ring. The back is black with blue-tipped feathers. The chest is white, feet grey-pink and the bill red. Adélies weigh between 4 and 6 kg (average weight is 4.4 kg), although males are usually slightly heavier.  The birds stand about 71 cm tall. 

Immature (first-year) bird

Immature (first-year) birds

Immature birds are similar to adults except that their backs are bluer and cheeks and throat are white. Adult plumage is attained in the second year.

Chick hatching

Chicks - just hatched to 10 days

Chicks have sooty-blackish heads and grey down-covered bodies. Although not waterproof, the down provides good insulation for the chicks on land

Big chick

Chicks - over 10 days

Chicks develop thicker, 'woolly', dark-grey down after 10 days.

Moulting chicks

Chicks - moulting

As the chicks develop they loose their soft down, which is replaced by waterproof feathers.  After 50 days the birds are nearly fully feathered.