Saturday, 6 November 2010

Slender-billed prion

Pachyptila belcheri

Photo by Phil Woollen (Cape Town Pelagics)

Common name:
slender-billed prion (en); faigão-de-bico-fino (pt); prion de Belcher (fr); petrel-azul de pico delgado; dünnschnabel-sturmvogel (de)

Order Procellariiformes
Family Procellariidae

This species has a restricted breeding distribution in islands of the southern oceans. The main colonies are located in the Falkland Islands, in the Atlantic; in the islands of Crozet and Kerguelen, in the Indian Ocean; and in Isla Noir, in Chile. Non-breeding distribution in all southern seas, as far north as southern Australia and the coasts of Peru and southern Brazil.

This small-sized seabird is 26 cm long as has a wingspan of 56 cm. They may weigh up to 180 g.

This pelagic species of the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic seas may also feed inshore or in shallow offshore waters during the breeding season. They are mostly found between 30º and 65º South.

Generally eats larger animals than filter-feeding prions. It feeds mostly on crustaceans, with a heavy dependence on amphipods (particularly Themisto gaudichaudii). It can also take small fish and squid. It mainly forages at night, grabbing prey from the surface or plunge-diving up to a depth of about 3-5 m.

The slender-billed prion nests in burrows under rocks or under low plants. Breeding starts in October. They lay a single egg in the first three weeks of November; this egg is incubated by both parents for 46-47 days. Hatching takes place in late December or early January. The chick is feed by both parents until fledging which takes place 43-54 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
With a population of 7 million, this seabird has no significant threats at present.

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