Bird Families

Common petrel


Diving petrels (lat.Pelecanoididae) are a family of novae from the order of petrels


Diving petrels belong entirely to the southern hemisphere. In appearance, these birds are not very similar to the rest of the tube-nosed ones. They are more like guillemots. The body length is 15-20 cm, the wings are 10-13 cm, the physique is dense. The plumage is blackish on the dorsal side of the body, whitish on the ventral side. The beak is short, the nostril tubes are also short, and their openings look straight up. The wings and tail are short. In search of food, these birds dive like guillemots. There are 4 species in the family.

Diving petrels inhabit the cold waters of Antarctica, nesting on islands. Nesting habits are similar to those of storm petrels. A single egg is placed in the burrow. Both parents incubate. The incubation period lasts 6-8 weeks, and the chick's life in the nest lasts about the same time. In places where diving petrels nest, they are very numerous.


The family has the only genus - Diving petrels (Pelecanoides) with 4 species:

Common petrel

The body length of adult birds is from 31 to 36 cm, weight is from 375 to 500 g. The wingspan is 60 - 75 cm. The plumage of the upper body is from gray to black, the lower part of the body is white. The wings are black or gray above, white below with a black border. The beak is bluish-gray with a black tip.

Birds of Crimea

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  • Birds starting with B
Latin name:Procellariidae
English name:Petrel
A type:Chordates
Genus:To be specified
Body length:25 cm
Wing length:23-29 cm
Wingspan:60 cm
Weight:200 g
  • 1 Description of the bird
  • 2 Peculiarities of petrel nutrition
  • 3 Bird distribution
  • 4 Common species of petrels
    • 4.1 Northern giant petrel
    • 4.2 Southern giant petrel
    • 4.3 Antarctic petrels
    • 4.4 Cape Doves or Cape Petrels
    • 4.5 Snow Petrel
    • 4.6 Blue Petrel
    • 4.7 Westland Petrel
    • 4.8 Small or common petrels
    • 4.9 Small-billed petrel
    • 4.10 Great Spotted Petrel
    • 4.11 Gray Petrel
  • 5 Male and female: the main differences
  • 6 Breeding petrels
  • 7 Interesting Facts About the Bird

Description of the bird

The sizes of petrels vary by species. The smallest birds are up to 25 cm in length, their wingspan is about 60 cm, and their weight is up to 200 g. But most of the species of these birds are still larger in size. There are even giant petrels that are close to albatrosses in size. Their body length reaches 1 m, a wingspan of about 2 m and a weight of up to 5 kg.

The color of the plumage of petrels is white, gray, brown or black. In general, all species are feathered in approximately the same way - both males and females - so it is difficult to distinguish between individual species and birds of different sexes within the same species.

All representatives of the petrel family fly well, differ only in flight styles. Their paws are located behind and poorly developed. Therefore, being on land is not an easy task for a petrel.

The bird's beak is long, resembling a hook in shape with a sharp tip and edges, which helps the petrel to hold on to prey that slips out of the beak.

Petrel nutritional features

The petrel's diet consists of small fish, molluscs, crustaceans. Most of all, the bird loves to feast on herring, sprats, sardines, cuttlefish.

The petrel hunts mainly at night, when its prey floats into the upper layers of the water. At the same time, the bird first carefully looks out for small fish, after which it sharply dives after it into the water. The maximum petrels can dive to 6-8 m. They filter the sea water with their beak, leaving an edible residue.

Since this kind of food extraction requires a lot of effort from the bird, petrels often "cunning" and find their own food, accompanying whales or fishing boats.

Bird spread

Petrel species live in a wide range in the south of the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean. Birds are especially common off the coast of Antarctica and Australia.For nesting, they choose small islands located in the oceans.

Common types of petrels

In the petrel family, two subfamilies are distinguished - Fulmarinae and Puffininae.

Representatives of the first (Fulmarinae) dive little and poorly, forage is obtained in the uppermost layers of water. Their flight is gliding, gliding.

Northern giant petrel

The largest bird in the family. The length of the beak is about 10 cm, the length of the wing is up to 55 cm. The beak is yellowish-pink, with a brown or red end. The plumage color in adults is dark gray, whitish in the chin and head, with white spots on the head, breast and neck. In young animals, feathers are darker and without white spots.

The species is distributed in the south of the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian oceans. Breeds on South Georgia Island.

Southern giant petrel

The body length of the bird is about 100 cm, the wingspan is up to 200 cm. The weight is from 2.5 to 5 kg. The beak is yellow with a green tip.

There are two options for the color of the bird - dark and light. The light-colored ones have white plumage, with rare black feathers. The dark ones are gray-brown in color, with a whitish head, neck and chest, decorated with brown spots.

Found in the south of the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Oceans. Breeds on islands near Antarctica.

Antarctic petrels

The petrel is medium in size. Its body length is about 45 cm, its wingspan is up to 110 cm, and its weight is 0.5-0.8 kg. The plumage is light silver-gray on the back and white on the abdomen. The upper wings are two-colored: brownish brown with a white stripe in the middle. The beak is dark brown. The legs are blue with black claws.

The habitat of the species includes the coast of Antarctica.

Cape Doves or Cape Petrels

The weight of the bird is from 250 to 300 g, the body length is about 36 cm, the wingspan is up to 90 cm. The wings are wide, the tail is short, rounded. The upper side of the wings is decorated with a black and white pattern with two large white spots. The head, chin, sides of the neck and back are black.

The species is common in the subantarctic zone.

Snow petrel

A small bird with a body length of 30 to 40 cm, a wingspan of up to 95 cm, weighing up to 0.5 kg. The plumage is pure white with a small dark spot near the eye. The beak is black. Legs are bluish-gray.

Lives on the coast of Antarctica.

Blue petrel

Small species with a wingspan of up to 70 cm. The plumage is gray on the back, head and wings. The top of the head is whitish. The beak is blue. The legs are blue with pink membranes.

The bird is widespread on the subantarctic islands in the area of ​​Cape Horn.

Species of the subfamily Puffininae fly gliding and flapping their wings frequently. These birds dive well under water for prey.

Westland petrel

The body length of the bird is up to 50 cm. The beak is of a characteristic hook-shaped form. The bird is painted completely black.

Found only in New Zealand.

Small or common petrel

Body length from 31 to 36 cm, weight 375-500 g. Wingspan up to 75 cm. The color of the back varies from gray to black, the abdomen is white. The wings are black or grayish at the top, white at the bottom with a black border. The beak is bluish-gray in color, black at the end.

The species breeds in the North Atlantic.

Thin-billed petrel

The wingspan is about 1 m. The plumage is dark brown, almost black, the belly is light.

The species is common on the island of Tasmania, off the coast of Australia, in the Pacific islands.

Great speckled petrel

The body length of the bird is up to 51 cm, the wingspan is up to 122 cm. The back is colored dark brown with a white stripe in the back of the head and white feathers on the tail. The tummy is white. A black-brown cap is noticeable on the head. The beak is black.

Lives in the South Atlantic.

Gray petrel

The body length is from 40 to 50 cm, the wingspan is about 110 cm. The color of the plumage is dark gray or dark brown, almost black. The underside of the wings is silvery.

The bird nests on the southern islands of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Male and female: the main differences

Sexual dimorphism in petrels is not pronounced. Females are slightly smaller than males in size.

Breeding petrels

Petrels nest on grassy cliffs far from the sea in large colonies. The first mating season in birds begins on average from 8 years, in rare individuals - from 3-4 years. Petrels are monogamous birds and show loyalty not only to each other, but also to their usual nesting place.

The nests of each species are different. Parents often dig a hole from 1 to 2 m deep as a nest. Then the female lays one egg, which is incubated by both partners in turn for 50-60 days. The first weeks after the chick is born, it requires careful parental care. Usually the male and the female stay with the chick for about 2 months, after which they fly away.

The life span of petrels is up to 30 years.

1. Distribution

Lesser petrels breed in the North Atlantic on islands off the west coast of Wales and in the Inner Hebrides. There are small populations in the Azores, Madeira, the Selvagens Islands, the Canary Islands and the islands in front of Brittany. Previously, it was considered conspecific with the Levantine petrel Puffinus yelkouan living in the Mediterranean Sea; it is the Levantine petrel that regularly penetrates the Black and Azov Seas in winter, but sometimes even at the end of summer, including forming clusters off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula.

Sightings of the common petrel in the Russian waters of the Baltic, Barents and White Seas are possible, but require additional confirmation.

2. Reproduction

The nesting sites are located away from the sea and covered with grass cliffs. Colonies of this species are often very large. Some individuals of this species make their first attempts at nesting at the age of 3 or 4 years. But there are also individuals that begin to nest only from the eighth year of life. Birds have a long monogamous marriage and devotion to the chosen nesting site. The nest is a burrow dug by both parents, the depth of which is from 1 to 2 m. Both parents incubate a single egg. Parents leave chicks after about 60 days. Chicks lose a lot in weight and fly out of the nest about 8 - 10 days after the departure of their parents.

The lifespan of birds can be very long. The oldest ringed bird was over 52 years old.

The total European population is estimated to be between 350,000 and 390,000 breeding pairs.

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  • Family Petrel Procellaridae Puffinus puffinus - common petrel Family Pelicanaceae Pelecanidae Pelecanus crispus - curly

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Diving petrels

Some storm petrels are able to dive to a depth of 20-30 centimeters and, as they say, come out dry from the water, immediately fly. The pen does not get wet. Petrels also dive a little, not all, really. But the true tube-nosed divers are diving petrels. They even row their wings underwater.

They often wave in the air, tremble almost like hawk moths above the wave itself. Suddenly they dive into a water mountain. A moment, and the bird flies out from the back of the wave.

They look like guillemots: everything is short - beak, neck, wings, legs, XBOCJ - and all this, from beak to tail, fits in some 16-25 centimeters.

They nest in burrows on the islands of the southern hemisphere in a narrow strip of latitudes from 35 to 55 degrees, but only in the Indian and Atlantic oceans, in the Pacific, diving petrels are not found.

Man and many animals cannot drink the sea ode for a long time: salts dissolved in it will seriously damage the kidneys. But the pipe-nosed birds drink it.

Anatomists found saline glands, a kind of "lacrimal kidneys" above their eyes, in small depressions of the skull. They remove excess salt from the body even faster than real kidneys.

Possessing this very useful "distillation apparatus", pipe noses (as well as gulls, cormorants, pelicans, sea turtles and crocodiles) drink sea water without harm.

Salt glands in all animals that possess them are arranged in almost the same way. It is a tangle of tiny tubes, braided by blood vessels. The tubules take salt from the blood and distill it into the central channel of the gland. From there, the saline solution flows out in drops: in crocodiles and turtles through the holes near the eyes, in birds usually through the nostrils. The pelican even has longitudinal grooves on its beak. Through them, as through channels, salty "tears" flow down to the tip of the beak.

There were different explanations for the strange shape of the nostrils of the tube-nosed birds. But it turned out that the nostrils-tubes are similar to a double-barreled pistol, not only in shape, but also in essence: they shoot salty droplets that are secreted by the lacrimal gland. Hovering over the waves for hours, the petrel rarely sinks into the water. In flight, the oncoming flow of air makes it very difficult for the salted liquid to escape from the nostrils.Therefore, nature has taken care of a “water gun” for the petrel: “tears” are sprayed out of the tubular nostrils with a force that overcomes the resistance of the wind.