(Picture by Brian Choo)
    The elephant teal is possibly the largest avian that has ever existed. It lives along the rocky coasts of Southern Oceanic islands and the Antarctic mainland. It's sternum is a huge, boat-like structure adapted to support it's great bulk on land. It's bill is gooselike and is used to catch the small shoaling cephalopods which form the bulk of it's diet.

    The Elephant Teal mates on the Antarctic Ice. During the breeding season the males develop prominent facial wattles and begin extremely vocal mating displays. The call of the male sounds like that of a booming "Donald Duck tantrum" amplified to deafening levels that can be heard for many miles: "QUAAAA-QUA-QUA-QUA-QUA-QUAAAAAAAAAK!" Fights often break out over display sites, sometimes leading to serious injury or death - easy prey for giant penguins of death.

    The smaller females flock towards the most attractive males. The actual coupling takes only a few seconds and the female then leaves with the male taking no further part in the raising of their offspring. The pregnant females migrate north, coming ashore in the Subantarctic Islands and Tierra del Fuego. The 2 eggs are incubated in a mound of rotting seaweed - this has the added effect of attracting swarms of insects and amphipods which provide the semi-precocial chick with food that is supplemented with squid brought back to the nest by the mother. The mother abandon the chicks at 6 weeks, but by then they are fully independent and form adolescent creches. They stay in Subantarctic waters until they are over a year old whereupon the survivors are strong enough to make the journey to Antarctica.

(Text by Brian Choo)
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