Why Do Penguins Build Nests? (Answered)

by Chukay Alex
Updated on

Penguins are fascinating creatures, virtually everything they do is interesting. To reproduce they have to build nests although not all Penguins build nests.

It is known that the Emperor Penguin and King Penguin do not build nests, their nesting habit is for the female to lay the egg and give it to the male partner to incubate until the egg hatches.

Stick with us as we explore the nesting habits of Penguins,  you will be shocked at what you find out. Penguins are indeed very interesting birds.

Why Do penguins Build Nests?

Why Do Penguins Build Nests

Penguins build a nest as a part of their reproductive process.

For most species of Penguins to reproduce this is tantamount to nesting or building a nest.

You can find Penguins hurdled together during nesting season to bring about the birth of the new generation of Penguins.

There is no nesting habit that is practiced by the entire species of Penguins.

While a lot of species of Penguins lay up to two eggs When nesting yet there are some species that lay one such as the emperor Penguins.

Penguins nest In different locations and environments, some nest under Bushes while some nest under rocks, you can also Find some nesting in cavities, crevices, and other places like that.

When building their nests They use stones or dig holes.

The nesting of emperor Penguins it’s quite intriguing because they do not build a traditional nest with any material,

It will simply lay the egg and transfer it to the feet of the male while the male keeps it warm throughout winter, the female goes to feed so it can take care of the hatchling. King penguins do this too.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on why do penguins slide on their bellies

What is a Penguin’s Nest Called?

A Penguin’s nest with eggs is called a clutch.

Usually it contains about two eggs,  except in the case of emperor and king Penguins that lay just one egg.

The fact that most Penguins lay at least two eggs increases the chances of their offspring surviving and growing till maturity.

Penguins build nests with rocks and everything, because of how simple the nest usually is they are referred to as scrapes.

Out of all species of Penguins, the Gentoo Penguin builds the most elaborate of nests.

Why Do Emperor Penguins not Build Nests?

Emperor Penguins live exclusively and breed exclusively in the cold and harsh conditions of the arctic sea or sea ice,

This is part of the reason They do not build a nest. 

What they do instead is the female after laying the egg gives the male the egg for winter while she goes to feed to get energy for the hatchling,

She returns just as around the time the egg hatches.

While the female is gone the male incubates the egg by carrying it on his feet, using its belly skin to keep the egg warm till it hatches.

The female leaves the egg over the winter with the male till the egg hatches.

Do Penguins lay Their Eggs in a Nest?

Yes, Penguins that build nests lay eggs in nests, But it is not all Penguins that lay eggs in nests because it’s not all Penguins that build nests.

Penguins that do not build nests lay their eggs while in their colony. Such penguins include the emperor penguin and King penguins.

Emperor Penguins live exclusively and breed exclusively in the cold and harsh conditions of the arctic sea or sea ice, this is part of the reason They do not build a nest. 

Other penguins that make a nest-like the Gentoo and crested penguins lay eggs in their nest,

They lay at least two eggs and attend to the eggs quite differently from how emperor and King penguins attend to their egg.

What Do Penguins Make Their Nests Out Of?

Penguins make their nest out of rocks and pebbles. 

Rocks and small stones are very good for making nests, it helps them line the nests and prevents too much cold from getting into them and affecting the eggs.

When they use these stones they fill up crevices and make them conducive to holding eggs, this way the eggs are not subjected to so much hardship.

To build their nests some species of Penguin still stones, rocks, and pebbles from their fellow birds.

The species that do this include the Gentoo, chinstrap, and Adélie penguins.

It is a common practice amongst these species of Penguins to steal stones from the nest of other Penguins.

This is because finding those stones can be hard considering the environment Penguins live.

Also check out this article I wrote on can penguins live in warm weather

Can Penguins Give Birth Underwater?

Penguins do not give “birth” they reproduce by laying eggs that hatch after incubation.

Though penguins are very proficient underwater they do not give birth underwater.

It has been observed that some species of the crested Penguin produce a smaller first egg because they spend so much time at sea.

The energy it takes for them to effectively swim reduces their capacity to make big eggs.

All these go to show you that penguins do not give birth underwater.

Giving birth underwater would expose the eggs or chicks to impossible odds of survival.

Do Penguins Destroy Each Other’s Nests?

Penguins do destroy each other’s nests in a way.

Because of how their environment is penguins do not easily find materials to build their nest so the next best thing to do is to steal items from other penguins’ nests.

In this way, they destroy each other’s nests.

They steal things including stones, feathers, and pebbles.


We have explored the nesting habits of Penguins and we have seen that they have very unique nesting habits.

Not all species of Penguins have the same nesting habits.

We know that penguins build nests as a part of their reproductive cycle but not all penguins use nests when they reproduce such as the emperor and King penguin.

At this point, you should know what penguins build their nests from and the fact that some species of Penguins steal items from the nest of other penguins to build their nest.

This essentially means they destroy each other’s nests.

Penguins really are fascinating animals.

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About the author

Chukay Alex

Chukay is a season writer and farmer who enjoys farming and growing plants in his backyard farm. When he is not farming you can find him at the nearest lawn tennis court, hitting a mean backhand down the line.


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