Penguins and pebble proposals

Have you seen this floating around the internet these days “33 Awesome Marriage Proposals You Couldn’t Say No To“? Well, I’m a romantic so I read them all and boy was I excited when I made it to #32 … all about that cute and fluffy flightless bird, the penguin. Check out the image below:


I was a little annoyed at the generalization (not all penguin species participate in this practice), but then remembered the point of the article is sharing undeniably adorable proposals, not teaching marine science. Where did this statement come from? Well, most likely this was swiped from the movie Good Luck Chuck. See the scene below:

So to shed a little light on this generalization here goes it … The Gentoo and Adelie penguins are the two species out of the 17 known species of penguins to participate in this practice. According to the “Observations on Animal Behaviour” blog “During courtship, the male will present the female with a pebble as a gift. If the female accepts the generous gift, they bond and mate for life. These pebbles hold considerable value and they are also symbols of affection toward a mate. It’s actually quite touching that he would give one away when he’s fighting ferociously to defend his pebbles.”

Gentoo penguin

Gentoo penguin

Adelie penguin

Adelie penguin

Happy World Penguin Day!


  1. Very touching! Some male terns (e.g. Bridled) will offer a fish to a potential mate – but maybe that’s just to check out the female’s eating manners… Anyway, not quite the same value as a pebble. RH

  2. Does anyone know what the criteria would be for selecting these pebbles? What would constitute a proper pebble to the male? Would female penguins accept any pebble? Or would she send the male back to search for another “better” pebble? What’s done with the pebble the presentation? Does the female form a sort of attachment to the pebble?

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