Original Painting, 12.5" x 18", Oil on board 1998, Framed. Copyright Michael Skidmore 2001
Each female has laid a single egg in late May and within a few hours has passed it over to her mate. The scene above depicts the time when the female emperor penguins depart their mates to walk across the sea ice in search of open leads. Here they will feed and regain their strength before returning to the colony as the chick is hatched
Meanwhile the more robust male emperor penguin incubates the precious egg in a special fold of loose skin above his feet for the next two months. The chick hatches in July and as the male bird has now not eaten for almost four months he has nothing to give the youngster for nourishment except one feed of 'crop milk' a secretion from the lining of his stomach. The female must return within about a four day time span or the famished male is forced to abandon the hatchling. To survive he must seek food by trekking northerly towards open water and the feeding grounds of the Southern Ocean returning in early September with food for the ravenous chick.
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