Skua and penguin predator prey relationship

Penguin Predators - Penguin Facts and Information

skua and penguin predator prey relationship

Penguin Predators Other marine mammal predators are sea lions and orcas. by a number of birds -- for example, the Australian sea eagle and the Skua. attempted predation and predation by skuas on penguin chicks were significantly higher indicate that the predator-prey relationship at colonies is complex and. Mostly these predators eliminate the weaker and sick birds, keeping the population Because the skuas are very feared predators, penguins directly attack with.

They are not big, but tough and capable of attacking live chicks that still are in their nests or the creches. They also steal eggs, from which they can feed.

Skua and Penguin - Predator and Prey (Hardcover)

It may be surprising that sometimes two skuas work together to get the loot. Antarctic pigeons are even bolder than them: Dogs, foxes, snakes, weasels, and cats brought from other parts of the world to the Antarctic and the islands where penguin populations live also feed on eggs and chicks; they are unnatural predators that penguins did not have before. These animals usually catch young or steal their eggs.

Today, the foxes introduced in Australia are the main predators of the little blue penguin Eudyptula minor and the cats that came to Dassen Island like to eat African penguin chicks Spheniscus demersus. A major problem occurred a few decades ago when five cats that were taken to Marion Island to kill the mice introduced by seal hunters quickly reproduced, and after a few years they became the principal predators of penguin chicks.

Indeed, not all penguins have the same predators. The Magellanic penguin Spheniscus magellanicus has to be aware of red foxes, gray foxes, giant petrels, ferrets, South American sea lions, seagulls and even pumas.

The king penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus has to mind brown skuas, Antarctic sea lions, giant petrels and subantarctic sea lions. On its habitat, the African penguin has the yellow mongooses, Cape sea lions, African sacred ibis and Cape genets as predators, just to mention some examples. Defense Strategies Penguins do not have claws, fangs or significant force to defend themselves, so they have to cooperate to stay alert to predators and avoid attacks.

Usually, these birds flee when chased, and tend to go into the ocean to escape. However, this is sometimes adverse, as deadly carnivores like the leopard seal are more dangerous when hunting in the water. If attacked by flying birds, penguins respond with flappings and menacing beaks to intimidate them. While flying up and down along the shore, they isolate a chick and then fall with all their weight up on the young bird, breaking its neck through the force of the collision.

Another more cruel tactic is to surround the young bird with more than one and pick at it till he dies. During the breeding season of penguins, giant petrels swarm around for hours, searching for sick or abandoned chicks or for wounded adult animals.

An adult penguin normally can keep off this predator, but when already wounded by f. The giant petrels then attack him from the rear and enlarge his wounds by bites, picking the intestines out. Luckily soon the penguin is so weak that he hardly feels something. Most of the time the giant petrel chooses the chicks as prey. Especially chicks of the king penguins are the victims.

They are, only three months old, most of the time left alone during winter, while the adults are searching for food at sea. While those chicks rarely get food, they become so weak that they build an easy prey. Predatory gulls or skuas Skuas look a lot like large, brown gulls and therefore are called predatory gulls. These birds of prey also have a predilection for eggs and chicken in all stages of development.

Sometimes, the wounded and sick adult penguins become victims of these skuas. Because the skuas are very feared predators, penguins directly attack with opened bills and stretched necks when they see one of them. Skuas use this to their advantage by attacking in pairs. The first one fly just out of reach around a breeding penguin, making him angry, and trying to get him away from the nest.

When the penguin, in the end, is so annoyed that he follows the skua for a few steps, the other one steals the egg or chick out of the nest. Then the two skuas share their prey. Because for the greater part, skuas feed on eggs and chicks of the penguins, you can ask what they eat when it's no breeding season. They use a very special trick to become a warm meal. They fly over sea, looking for a poor seabird that just has eaten.

skua and penguin predator prey relationship

That bird can not ascend fast, caused by the weight of his stomach, and isn't able to avoid the heavy attacks of the skuas. At the very last, the seabird will throw up and spit out his food, to escape from the attacks. The skua just waits for this and before the food can touch the surface of the water, the skua gets it.

Penguin Predators

To us it sounds disgusting but for the skua it is a very welcome meal. Sheathbills Chionididae Sheathbills are only in a restricted way a predator to penguins.

skua and penguin predator prey relationship

They are as large as small chicken with many of their characteristics like fear of water and heights. They have white feathers and a special bill, at the top black and at the start red-yellow folds of the skin.

Mostly they feed on garbage and carrion. But sometimes they take a wounded penguin, which is too weak to defend itself.

Skua - Wikipedia

Abandoned eggs are part of their prey, but because they need a long time to pick a hole in an egg, they mostly are too slow and chased away in time. Their strength is to steal the food of a feeding penguin. They sneak close to a nest and wait till the adult penguin opens its bill to feed its chick. This chick stands directly under the throwing up parent, ready to catch the partly digested food out of the bill.

On that moment the sheathbills flies up and lands almost direct on the head of the feeding penguin. The penguin is startled by this and stops the feeding. But his bill is still full of food, and he isn't able to swallow it down again, so the warm krill falls on the ground where the sheathbills can take it up.

Although most of the time, sheathbills are the cleaning team in a penguin colony.

skua and penguin predator prey relationship

Gulls Of course there are also a lot of seagulls near almost every penguin colony. Those are looking for abandoned eggs and chicks. For a scientist, on research in the colony, it can cause problems, because when a penguin gets frightened of him and leaves his nest for just a moment, it can be disastrous for the eggs or chicks. Landpredators There is a long list of land-predators for penguins. Many of them are introduced by men, including rats, cats and dogs etc.

Four penguin species breed on the mainland: These are threatened by many land-predators. So a leopard can be very dangerous for African penguins.