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Spring is the Season of Love! Shedd Penguins Build Nests for Mating Season

March 30, 2017

A rockhopper penguin, distinguished by its yellow crested feathers, holds nest materials in its beak for nesting and mating season.

Love is in the air during spring, which is especially true for the penguins at Shedd Aquarium as they prepare for mating season. It is officially nest building time for the rockhopper and Magellanic penguins, two species that reside at Shedd. Nesting materials including sticks and rocks have been placed in the habitat this week for the birds to collect and arrange into love nests before they pair up for mating season.

During the annual ritual which has occurred at Shedd since 1994, Shedd’s animal care experts adapt the light cycle and scatter twigs and stones throughout the penguin habitat. This signals to the penguins that it is time to begin the weeks-long process of nest building. The male penguins will pursue the perfect rock to attract a female mate, and the birds will build their nests in a variety of sizes.

It is expected that eggs may start to be seen at the end of April into May, but guests might have a hard time spotting them as the birds typically are very vigilant about sitting on the nests to keep them warm.

Shedd’s penguin breeding program has seen several new additions in recent years, including rockhopper penguins Ruggles in 2014 and Diego, which hatched in 2015.