Best 20 Adelie Penguin Facts, Lifespan, Size, Diet

Adelie Penguin

Adelie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) is penguin species found in the Antarctic continent. It is most widely spread among all the species of penguin. It can also be found in the form of colonies in South Orkney, South Shetland and South Sandwich Islands during warmer months. It migrates to open water areas during winter months.

These birds are characterized by white feathers in the form of ring around the eye and white and black plumages. The breeding time of adelie penguins occurs during November and December when they return to their breeding colonies. They form nests in the form of stones.

They have average size of about 40 centimeters to 75 centimeters or 16 inches to 30 inches, average weight of about 3 kilograms to 6 kilograms or 7 pounds to 13 pounds, average wingspan of about 35 centimeters to 70 centimeters or 14 inches to 27 inches. They exhibit top speed of about 45 miles per hour.

Their conservation status is least concerned even though they are preyed by predators like Leopard Seal, Killer Whale and Gull. They can live up to 20 years.

Adelie Penguin Facts: 

Some of the facts about adelie penguin are as follows,

  1. Adelie penguins belong to Spheniscidae family.
  2. They are most commonly found in Antarctic Ocean.
  3. They are carnivores and can eat krills, fish and squids.
  4. They can eat 2 kilograms of food per day.
  5. They live in the form of groups.
  6. There are approximately 5 million adelie penguins in the world.
  7. The most distinctive feature of these birds is the white circle around each eye.
  8. They are diurnal.
  9. The age of sexual maturity of these birds is approximately 2 to 3 years.
  10. These birds have thick layer of fat under their skin to keep them warm because they live in the coldest environments.
  11. The feathers provide a waterproof layer and perform the task of insulation for protection.
  12. They don’t exhibit teeth. They have tooth shaped barbs present on the roof of their mouths and on their tongues. These barbs help them in swallowing slippery prey.
  13. The predators of adelie penguins include Skua Gull, Killer Whale and Leopard Seal.
  14. The biggest threat to these birds is rapid ice melt.
  15. The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed these birds as “least concern”.
  16. The average lifespan of these birds is 10 to 20 years.

Adelie Penguin Lifespan:

These birds reach the age of sexual maturity at 2 to 3 years. The average lifespan is 10 to 20 years.

Adelie Penguin Baby: 

Adelie penguins return to their breeding colonies during November and December (Antarctic summer months). They build small nests of stones. These birds exhibit soft feet which make walking towards their nesting sites easy for them. The courtship rituals include neck arching and beak thrusting. These birds mate for life.

Female lays 2 eggs. The incubation period is about 2 months. During this incubation period, male goes in search of food. After 90 days of fledgling, the young ones called chicks start hatching.

The chicks possess a bump on top of their beaks (egg tooth) that is necessary for breaking out of the egg. After about 2 to 3 months of hatching, the young ones become independent and can form groups called creches.


Adelie Penguin Size: 

Adelie penguins are small species of penguins. They have bluish black back, white coloured chest and belly, black coloured head and beak. They have white ring around each eye. They also exhibit strong pink coloured feet with bumpy nails that help them in climbing and swimming.

Their average size is about 40 centimeters to 75 centimeters or 16 inches to 30 inches.

Adelie Penguin Diet: 

Adelie penguins obtain all of their food from sea. They are excellent swimmers. They are carnivores. Their primary diet includes krill, molluscs, small fish and squids. These birds have the ability to store and regurgitate food to feed their young ones.

Adelie Penguin Adaptations: 

Some of the adaptations exhibited by adelie penguins are as follows,

  1. They exhibit compact shape. Their low surface area to volume ratio decreases heat loss.
  2. Their flippers help them in swimming underwater and to maintain warm temperature.
  3. They exhibit a layer of fat under the skin for insulation.
  4. The black above and white underneath keeps them unnoticed by the predators because of difficulty in seeing the white colour in the sea. This colouration also helps them to maintain their body temperatures by turning their back or front towards the sun according to their needs.
  5. They exhibit barbs on their tongues to swallow slippery prey.
  6. They have short and sharp beak to catch krill and fish.
  7. They exhibit migration towards north in winter to escape from the harsh Antarctic winter.
  8. They arrive in the south during early days of summer season because of the huge availability of food.
  9. They exhibit tobogganing (sliding on front while pushing legs). This helps to save a huge amount of energy.
  10. To increase individual survival chance, they gather in the form of large groups at the ice edge when they see predators.
  11. They form nests of stones slightly above the ground to protect their eggs from getting frozen in the snow.
  12. Their muscles have large amounts of myoglobin that can provide extra amount of energy during a dive.
  13. They have salt glands and kidneys that produce concentrated urine. This helps them to tolerate diet rich in saline.

Adelie Penguin Predators: 

The predators of adelie penguins include Killer Whales, Leopard Seal and South Polar Skuas. Leopard Seals are the most common predators. Killer Whales usually eat larger penguin species and rarely adelie penguins. Skuas usually prey on eggs and chicks. Adelie penguins escape from these predators by swimming in groups.

Adelie Penguin Scientific Name: 

Adelie penguins belong to Spheniscidae family and Pygoscelis genus. The scientific name is “Pygoscelis adeliae”.

Adelie Penguin Attack: 

Adelie penguins may possess aggressive behavior. They can attack humans though it is rare because they live away from humans. They can attack with their beaks by pecking them and with their wings by hitting them if they feel threatened. Their long and sharp beaks can pierce skin of a person.

Adelie Penguin Behavior: 

Adelie penguins are social and live in large groups called colonies that contain thousands of individual penguins. They are diurnal, motile and migratory birds.

These birds cam become aggressive because of their nesting sites. They possess stealing behavior of stealing rocks from the nests of their neighbours to make their own nests. They often hunt in the form of groups because it reduces the chance of being seen by predators. These birds use body language and eye movements to communicate with each other.

Adelie Penguin Characteristics: 

Some characteristics of adelie penguins are as follows,

  1. Adelie penguins are small penguins.
  2. They have tuxedo appearance.
  3. They have black head and white rings around each eye.
  4. They have short and wedge shaped tails. These tails have huge amount of tail feathers that help them in rocking back on their heel and propping themselves up on land.
  5. They are one of the three species of brush tail penguins.
  6. They built their nests by stealing rocks from the nests of their neighbours.
  7. They exhibit migration with the change of climate.

Adelie Penguin Classification: 

Adelie penguins are the smallest species of penguins. They are most widely spread in the Southern Ocean. They are one of the two penguin species that are found in Antarctic Ocean. The other penguin species is Emperor penguin.

The French explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville named this penguin for his wife Adelie in 1840. They have adapted well in Antarctic Ocean because of migration with the change of climate.

Adelie Penguin Migration: 

Adelie penguins live in the Antarctic continent. They leave this area in winter and migrate 600 kilometers towards north. In warmer summer months they return to south.

Do Adelie And Emperor Penguins Get Along? 

Some of the similarities and differences between adelie penguins and emperor penguins are as follows,


  • Both the species of penguins belong to Spheniscidae family.
  • Both have distinctive penguin shape and appearance.
  • Both live in Antarctic Ocean.
  • Both have approximately same diet.
  • Both are social and live in colonies.
  • Both are extremely agile.


  • Emperor penguins are large in size. Their average size is about 45 inches; average weight is 48 pounds to 80 pounds. However, adelie penguins are small in size. They are 27 inches tall. They have average weight of about 7 pounds to 13 pounds.
  • Adelie penguins form their nests by moving to ice free beaches. However, emperor penguins never move to land for the formation of nests.
  • Emperor penguins have more varied diet as compared to Adelie penguins.
  • Adelie penguins pair with the same mate while emperor penguins can pair with different mates after returning to the nesting sites.

Do Adelie Penguins Mate For Life? 

Adelie penguins are monogamous and they mate for life. Some female adelie penguins have also seen performing prostitution by mating with other males for the exchange of stones for the sake of nests.



Adelie penguins are the smallest, most widespread and one of the three species of brush tail penguins found commonly in Antarctic Ocean. They have distinctive white rings around their eyes. They are well known for their migration from north to south with the change of climate.

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