Sunday, 7 September 2014

Antarctic petrel

Thalassoica antarctica

Photo by François Guerraz (Wikipedia)

Common name:
Antarctic petrel (en); pintado-antárctico (pt); pétrel antarctique (fr); petrél antártico (es); Antarktiksturmvogel (de)

Order Procellariiformes
Family Procellariidae

This species breeds along the coasts of Antarctica, as well as in nearby islands. They forage over the Southern Ocean, as far north as Tierra del Fuego and sometimes near southern New Zealand and South Africa.

These birds are 40-46 cm long and have a wingspan of 100-110 cm. They weigh 510-756 g.

The Antarctic petrel nests on snow-free cliffs and rock faces, mainly in coastal or on offshore islands, but it has also been found to nest up to 250 km inland. They forage on open waters, mainly in the vicinity of pack ice and especially in areas with icebergs.

They hunt by surface-seizing, or less often by diving, mainly taking krill Euphausia superba, but also fishes such as Pleuragramma antarcticum, crustaceans, and squids such as Gonatus antarcticus.

Antarctic petrels breed in November-March. They are mostly monogamous and breed in colonies of a few nests to over 200.000 pairs. They nest in clefts, crevices and ledges on sloping rocky cliffs in snow-free areas, more than 6 m above sea level. The female lays a single egg, which is incubated by both parents for 45-50 days. The chick is fed and brooded by both parents, fledging 42-47 days after hatching.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has an extremely large range and the global population is estimated at 10-20 million individuals. The population trend is believed to be stable.

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