Penguins come ashore to lay their eggs and raise their chicks. Most penguins stay with their mate for many years and lay only one or two eggs at a time. Parents take turns keeping their eggs warm, and when they hatch, feeding and protecting the chicks. For a few weeks each year, thousands of baby birds wait together while their parents forage for food. When mother and father return, chicks listen for the unique audio frequency of their parents’ call, allowing them to reunite in a large, noisy crowd.
Soon after the chicks fledge, parents will begin molting. Unlike some birds that shed a few feathers at a time, penguins lose all their feathers at once during a process called catastrophic molt. They condense this process to just a few weeks because they must fast during this time—they can’t hunt without their waterproof feathers.