CHICAGO (CBS) — Penguins at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium are now busy collecting materials like dried plants and are in the process of pairing up for the annual nesting season.

©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

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The Magellanic and rockhopper penguins are starting to build their nests at the Shedd. Visitors are able to get an up close look at the penguins’ life cycle. The weeks-long project “is signaled by changes in the daily light cycle and the addition of materials like lavender sprigs and rocks to the habitat for the birds to gather for their nests.”

According to a news release from the Shedd Aquarium, sometimes the nesting will result in eggs being laid and possibly hatched “where the bonded penguin pair would take turns sitting on the nests to keep the eggs or chicks warm.”

©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

It’s possible that those eggs could be seen throughout this month and through May.

The Shedd Aquarium said last year, four Magellanic chicksPorter, Popi, Dee, and Sir Elio – joined the colony, after the season.

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©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

The aquarium added that the new arrivals from last year will be part of the “Shedd’s participation in a conservation effort among aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in a cooperatively managed Species Survival Plan for Magellanic penguins.”

©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Even though the birds, according to the Shedd have gone “offline” from programs, like the virtual penguin encounter, visitors coming to the Shedd Aquarium can watch the penguins in the colony and get an closer look at this season.

©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

For anyone who can’t visit the Shedd in person, the aquarium has what it calls virtual animal encounters being offered through the end of May.

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To plan a visit, check out the Shedd Aquarium’s website for information on the facility’s hours, advance ticket purchasing and COVID protocols.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff