Antarctic Birds: White-chinned Petrel

Now we’re done with the species of albatross one can regularly see in Antarctic waters (at least the ones near the Antarctic Peninsula), it’s time to go back to the somewhat smaller tubenoses (see this post for an overview of the species covered so far). The White-chinned Petrel is a fairly common species of petrel and is commonly seen in the Drake Passage. With a wingspan of around 140cm it’s much smaller as the albatrosses, but still a lot bigger as other common petrels in the Drake, like the Cape and Wilson’s Storm-petrel.

White-chinned Petrel being dwarfed by a young Wandering Albatross

White-chinned Petrels are completely dark brown (nearly black) and seem a bit less ‘bulky’ as both giant petrels (which of course are a lot bigger as well). Don’t try to look for the white chin, as that’s often only a few feathers big and might only show up on good pictures.

White-chinned Petrel

White-chinned Petrels breed on many of the subantarctic islands, like South Georgia and the Falklands. They breed in colonies and make their nests in burrows, like many other of the smaller tubenoses. They mainly feed on squid, salps, fish and crustaceans, which they most often catch from the surface though they sometimes make shallow dives.

Arjen Drost

Arjen is a Polar ecologist, nature photographer and full time expedition guide on expedition cruise ships in both Polar regions. With his pictures and stories he likes to show the beauty of these very fragile and threatened places.

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