National Geographic : 1952 Sep
425 © Herbert G. Pointing A Marauding Skua Gull Grabs an Adelie Egg; Penguin Hens Scream in Protest No bird goes farther south than the swift and powerful skua gull (Catharacta skua maccormicki). Scott reported seeing it within 185 miles of the South Pole, far from any food supply. This flesh-eating scavenger preys constantly on penguin rookeries. Known as the thief bird, it steals uncovered eggs and pounces on wandering chicks (page 426). Adelies strangely tolerate skua nests within a few yards of their own. "As soon as they were ashore," he writes, "the penguins approached in procession to a respectful distance, and stood still, while one very fat big one, leaving the others, strode out with a most dignified air, which would have been comical had it not been so sincere, and came forward a few paces to the party. Arrived in front of the men he stopped and bowed his head low until his beak rested in the down of his white waistcoat. He remained like this for about half a minute . . . and then he drew up his head and commenced to address the men with a painfully long guttural speech. He muttered and talked away for fully five minutes, and then, the speech apparently ended, he looked up into the solemn face of Captain Gjertsen . . . to see if he understood."* Some Penguins Live near Equator In contrast to the emperor, the GalApagos penguin lives practically on the Equator, in flagrant violation of the time-honored miscon ception which avows that penguins can live only in ice water. The Galapagos pays for this whimsy by being captured frequently. He shares that misfortune with the Humboldt penguins of Chile and Peru, and the jackass of South Africa; these three species are the ones most commonly seen in zoos throughout the world. The Humboldt and jackass also are famed as producers of guano. But these warm-water sissies are dull com pany indeed when compared with their cold water cousins, the Adelies. Here is the beloved penguin of legendary fame, the royal jester of Antarctica, the chap who out-Chaplins Charlie Chaplin (pages 406-7, 423, and oppo site). Adelies are born clowns. Like children, they play together such games as king-of-the mountain, one scaling a snow hill to reign until another pushes him from his throne. They will pop up from the depths to plop into a rowboat in a shower of salt water, or stand soberly like sidewalk superintendents to watch a man dig a hole. Adelies appear to live for the sheer pleasure of living-a habit pattern in which they do not resemble man. Emulating the ancient Romans, who sometimes regurgitated their food at feasts so as to be able to eat meal after meal at one sitting, this penguin will fill his tiny belly with crustacea, disgorge his dinner, and start over again. * This and the quotation on page 426 are from Whaling in the Frozen South, by Alan J. Villiers, copyright 1925, 1931. Used by special permission of the publishers, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc.