Emperor penguins have unusual nesting habits. Large numbers of penguins arrive in Antarctica in March or April to start looking for a mate. That may not sound unusual, but in Antarctica, that’s the end of summer and start of a long, dark winter. Some birds are looking for a new mate. Others are reuniting with their mate from previous years. The process involves lots of waddling, singing, and head bobbing.
After mating, the female lays a single egg. There isn’t nesting material in Antarctica, so she lays it directly on the ice. It doesn’t stay there long. Her mate rolls it onto his feet and covers it with his belly to keep it warm. Meanwhile, the female, who hasn’t eaten in two months, returns to the ice-cold ocean to feed. The males huddle together in the long Antarctic night, incubating the eggs as southern lights dance across the sky. They will get to eat after the eggs hatch in July.