Bird Families

Southern giant petrel


Petrels are medium sized birds. These birds can both soar in the air and fly, flapping their wings. Some species can dive under water from flight.

The giant petrel is noticeably different in size and weight from its smaller petrels. Its wingspan reaches 180 cm, and its weight is 5 kg. This species nests along the shores of the rocky islands of Antarctica. Giant petrels feed on a variety of marine animals, and often prey on penguin chicks. Most often, petrels can be found in whaling, hunting and fishing areas - flocks of thousands of birds gather there.

Giant petrels behave like vultures, eating the carcasses of seals and whales. This bird amazed the first whalers with its gluttony and omnivorousness: they gave it the nickname "bone breaker". The expandable goiter of the giant petrel can hold a lot of meat. When it is filled to capacity, the bird presses it to the ground, thus killing it, and manages to swallow another piece.

V. Babenko, Candidate of Biological Sciences, Science and Life Magazine (

Southern Giant Petrel - Macronectes giganteus

The southern giant petrel is on average slightly larger than the northern giant petrel, in contrast to it has two color phases - almost white and brownish-gray, with a lighter head. It also differs in the details of the beak structure and proportions.

The eyes are light or brown, the beak is yellowish. Young birds are colored dark brown, beak is gray-blue, eyes are dark. Breeds in large sparse colonies, nests more openly, starts breeding on average 6 weeks later than northern giant petrels. Incubation lasts about 60 days, rearing - 4-5 months. The chick is covered with white down. Sexual maturity occurs at 6-7 years of age.

Distributed in the southern hemisphere, on migrations further enters the subtropics, especially in high latitudes, up to the ice shelves of Antarctica.

The giant or southern petrel (Procellaria giganteus) reaches up to 90 cm in length and up to 2 m in wingspan. The upper side of its body is black with dull white edges of feathers, the underside is white, the beak is bright yellow, the legs are pale yellow. Young birds are monochrome, chocolate brown. It is found in the temperate and cold parts of the southern hemisphere. The giant flies very quickly and for a long time. He feeds on various garbage and fish, but birds were also found in his stomach.

Petrel appearance

The body length of this bird reaches 85-95 centimeters, some individuals grow up to 1 meter. Representatives of the species weigh 5-8 kilograms.

The wingspan varies between 185-205 centimeters. The southern giant petrel has a large head and short neck. The beak is very strong and firm, at the end it is bent downwards, and has the shape of a hook, and grooves stretch along its sides. The upper part of the beak has a hollow tube that is 2/3 of the length of the beak. There is a longitudinal baffle inside the tube, dividing it in half. These are the nostrils. Southern giant petrels have an excellent sense of smell.

Flight of a giant petrel.

The legs of these birds are strong, on each leg there are 3 toes, between which there are swimming membranes. There is also a 4th finger, but it is practically undeveloped, but represents a slight bulge. Despite their strong limbs, these birds walk poorly, but they swim great. True, petrels do not really like to swim, they spend most of their life in the air above the sea surface.

Hear the voice of the southern giant petrel
These birds have excellent hearing and vision. Southern giant petrels have spotted plumage, and the feathers themselves are light, but they have dark edges. Therefore, it seems that the bird has a spotted color. The belly and chest are most often white. Legs, beak and eyes are yellowish.

The petrel is a sea bird.

The plumage of juveniles that have not reached sexual maturity is different from the plumage of adult birds. The color has a solid chocolate brown color. The beak is light with a reddish bloom at the tip. The eyes are black. Legs are dark brown. Newborn chicks are wrapped in snow-white fluff.

Petrel behavior and nutrition

When the adults raise their offspring, they leave their nesting sites and set off on a journey across the boundless expanses of the Southern Ocean. Winds in this part of the Earth always blow to the east. The petrel catches the wind and floats in the air. In a similar way, these birds can fly around the entire southern hemisphere.

The diet consists of fish and invertebrates living in the upper layers of the water. In addition, petrels do not refuse carrion: corpses of penguins and seals. These birds can attack chicks of other birds left without parental supervision.

The southern giant petrels protect themselves in a rather original way - they release a stream of liquid from the stomach, which has a disgusting odor. This behavior is manifested in the chicks of these birds. Today, the southern giant petrel population is protected by the Red Data Book.

The southern giant petrel is listed in the Red Book.

Reproduction and life expectancy

The birds begin to fly to nesting sites in the month of November. On the spot, the birds break into pairs and form colonies, with which they settle on cliffs and rocks. In one such group, there are no more than 300 males and females.

These birds do not build nests, but hatch a single large egg right on the ground. The hatching period of the offspring is 2 months. Chicks look like snow-white fluffy lumps. Parents take care of their offspring for 4 months. After this period, the chicks begin to fly and lead an independent life.

A southern petrel female with a chick.

Sexual maturity in southern giant petrels occurs at 5-7 years of age. These birds live for 40-45 years.

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Northern giant petrel

The northern giant petrel is a very large, predatory, pelagic seabird of the petrel family of the petrel order. The species was first described by Australian bird watcher Gregory Matthews in 1912. It is one of two species in the genus of giant petrels and one of about 80 species in the petrel family.

Inhabits the Southern Ocean, mainly north of the Antarctic Convergence Line. The range of the species overlaps widely with the range of the southern giant petrel, but in general it is somewhat displaced to the north.

1. Characteristics of the northern giant petrel

Along with the southern giant petrel, it is the largest bird of the family. Birds nesting in South Georgia have beak lengths of 85 - 100 mm, metatarsus - 87 - 106 mm, wings - 482 - 564 mm. The beak is pale yellowish pink, usually with a brownish or reddish tip. In some juvenile birds, beak coloration may be even yellowish-pink, indistinguishable from juveniles of southern giant petrels. The iris of the eye in adult birds is light gray or greenish, in young birds it is brown. The plumage of the body in adult birds is dark gray, whitish on the front of the head and chin, speckled white on the head, neck and chest. In young immature birds, the plumage is darker and less speckled. Fledging chicks have a spotted black color. Birds acquire an adult color of plumage and iris as they grow older, within 5 - 7 years.

2. Dissemination

A pelagic species found throughout the Southern Ocean north of the Antarctic Convergence Line, as well as in the southern Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans - including northern Chile, Argentina, as well as areas of South Africa and the southern half of Australia. Breeds in South Georgia, where about 4500 pairs are recorded, on Chatham, Crozet, Kerguelen, Macquarie and others. The total area of ​​the species range is about 82,600,000 km² 31,900,000 sq. miles.

  • North Giant Petrel Macronectes halli - South Georgia, Chatham Islands, Kerguelen, Crozet Islands, Macquarie. Southern giant petrel Macronectes
  • Southern giant petrel lat. Macronectes giganteus is a very large, predatory, pelagic seabird of the petrel family Procellariidae
  • salvini Petrels Southern giant petrel Macronectes giganteus Northern giant petrel Macronectes halli White-chinned petrel Procellaria
  • epomophora Order: Petrels Family: Petrels Northern giant petrels Macronectes halli A Cape dove, Daption capense Tahitian
  • albatross Macronectes giganteus - southern giant petrel Macronectes halli - northern giant petrel Fulmarus glacialoides - Antarctic
  • Macronectes giganteus Northern giant petrel - Macronectes halli Antarctic fulmar - Fulmarus glacialoides Antarctic petrel - Thalassoica
  • is only 5 Many species of gulls and other seabirds, such as the northern giant petrel Macronectes halli, on occasion feed on carrion - other dead
  • A Order: Petrels Family: Petrels Southern giant petrels Macronectes giganteus A Cape dove, Daption capense A
  • only 5 Many species of gulls and other seabirds, such as the northern giant petrel Macronectes halli, feed on carrion on occasion - others
  • Breeding Adélie penguin, emperor penguin, chinstrap petrels snow petrels Wilson's storm petrels, Antarctic fulmars, and south polar skuas
  • emperor and royal penguins. Breeding southern giant petrel Cape Dove, Snow petrel Antarctic whale bird, Wilson's storm petrel
  • exulans Black-browed albatross - Thalassarche melanophris Southern giant petrel - Macronectes giganteus Foolish - Fulmarus glacialis Cape Dove
  • a shelter for a large number of animals. Including birds of the species Giant petrels Macronectes Magellanic penguin Spheniscus magellanicus Alpine
  • Large moa North Island Dinornis robustus South Island Family Emeidae Genus Anomalopteryx Anomalopteryx didiformis North and South Island
  • other tube-nosed animals: of the entire order, only albatrosses and also the southern giant petrel Macronectes giganteus are able to move well on land. Plumage
  • South Atlantic. Large, possibly flightless hoopoe. It fed mainly on giant earwigs, which reached 8.5 cm in length. At the end of the 20th century, these insects
  • Hutton's petrel Puffinus mauretanicus - Balearic petrel Puffinus newelli - Newell's petrel Puffinus yelkouan - Levantine petrel Podiceps
  • climbers society Petrel expedition led by EI Tamm. Since it was not known whether it was possible to go to the North Inylchek glacier along the coast
  • 150 people meeting room. The complex was erected on the site of the Burevestnik stadium specifically for the XXII Olympic Games in 1980 in Moscow, and from July 19
  • settlements of the Sakhalin region Okha, Shakhtersk, Nogliki, Yuzhno - Kurilsk, Burevestnik on Iturup Island as well as with Japan Tokyo, Sapporo, South Hakodate
  • small rodents. A large number of birds: plovers, gulls, ducks, cormorants, petrels, albatrosses, passerines, owls, falconifers and others. Many avian
  • Krasnoznamenets, which included Plant 5. Plant Severny Press Plant Severny Press was established in January 1932 on the basis of metal - stamping
  • weighed up to 55 kilograms. The last mentions date back to 1658. Giant fossa lat. Cryptoprocta spelea - an extinct species of Madagascar civet
  • ingens Milne - Edwards Grandidier, 1894 It is believed that information about giant birds from Madagascar served as a source for the legends about the bird Roc from a Thousand
  • fossil Archeopteryx resemble in structure the claws of the goatsins. Giant petrels and albatrosses also have a mechanism for securing their wing joints.
  • on other large flightless birds, including the 18 kg giant goose Cnemiornis calcitrans. Like other large animals, the Haast eagle
  • inflict a large number of punctures and scratches. Among birds, gulls are widespread, duck petrels - diving, cormorants and a number of other species. Mammals are represented in
  • teeth - protrusions. Main article: Burevestnik factory club Built for the Burevestnik shoe factory Small club located on a long and narrow stretch
  • The Antarctic Shield is a nesting site for Emperor penguins, Adélie giant petrels, and South Polar skuas. Inhabited by birds and the most arid deserts
  • switch to nearby nesting birds, including guillemots, storm petrels and petrels The appearance of the soaring eagle often drives colonial birds en masse

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The southern giant petrel Macronectesgiganteus is a true giant in Patagonia - the northern giant petrel Macronecteshalli. FOURTH ORDER. Tubular Procellariiformes 1930 Bram. Southern giant petrel Macronectes giganteus J. F. Gmelin, 1789 Northern giant petrel Macronectes halli Mathews, 1912.

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Northern giant petrel.

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Southern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus On average slightly larger than Northern Giant Petrel, in contrast to it. 1 EIE Living beings. Genus: Macronectes Richmond, 1905 A. M. Sokolov's giant petrels Species: Macronectes halli Mathews, 1912 Northern giant petrel. VIEW Germany's business has changed its mind about inadmissibility. Sturmvogel noun m. Petrel. The northern giant petrel is a very large, predatory, pelagic seabird of the family. Recommendations of the Fourth Consultative ATP The giant or giant petrel Macronectes giganteus is a fool that lives in the North Polar Sea and very rarely leaves it.

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Petrel - sea nomad

The most poetic bird - petrel. Why is it called so explained simply. The bird flies low, almost touching the waves. In bad weather, the wind is fresher, the waves are growing. The bird rises to a great height. Or, as the sailors say, sits on the tackle of the ship. Thus, announces the impending storm.

Description and features

The appearance of these birds indicates a propensity for long sea flights. The wingspan of some species is 1.2 meters, body length is 0.5 meters. The petrel family is part of the order of petrels or pipe-noses.

A distinctive feature that determined the entry into this detachment was the structure of the nostrils. They are located in elongated chitinous tubes located over the beak.

The bird is folded in proportion. Petrel in the photo demonstrates its aerodynamic qualities. The body shape is streamlined. The wings are long, narrow. The flight style is “shaving”. The petrel does not fly, but glides, making rare swings. The wind reflected from the waves creates additional lift and saves the energy of the birds.

Petrels have little connection to land. This is indicated by the webbed feet. They are shifted backward relative to the bird's center of gravity. Suitable for rowing rather than ground walking. The back toes on them are completely degraded.

The lower part of the body is painted in light colors: gray, white. The upper one is darker: gray, almost black, brown. This allows the bird to remain inconspicuous against the background of the sky and sea. There are some species that are completely dark, almost black.

Birds belonging to the species variegated petrels and Cape doves can boast of a bright pattern on the upper part of the wings and on the head.

IN petrel family several genera are included. The largest birds are represented by the genus giant petrels. This genus bears the system name Macronectes. It includes two types that are very similar in appearance:

  • Southern giant petrel.

This bird creates nests in the Falkland Islands, in the south of Patagonia, on the shores of Antarctica.

  • Northern giant petrel.

The name of this species suggests that it breeds offspring just north of its relative. Mainly on South Georgia Island.

The wingspan of giant petrels reaches 2 m. The body length can reach 1 m. This is the largest genus of birds in the family.

Among the petrels there is a genus with a child's name: fulmars. There are two types in the genus:

  • Common silly.
  • Antarctic fulmar.

This genus also included two species that died out in the Miocene epoch. In birds of this genus, the body length is 0.5-0.6 m, the wings open to 1.2-1.5 m. They nest in northern latitudes. They form large colonies on the rocks. This petrel bird roams a lot. It got its name because of the complete absence of fear of man.

The genus received an equally interesting name:

  • Pintado.

The name of this bird can be translated from Spanish, like a dove in a cape. The bird has black and white spots and lace-like patterns on its wings and tail. The size of the Cape Dove is the same as that of the Fulmar. Birds of this genus nest in New Zealand, Tasmania, on the Antarctic islands.

Fish form the backbone of the petrels' menu. But there is a bird that has oriented itself towards plankton.

  • Whale bird.

The genus of these birds contains 6 species. They all differ from other petrels in their short and thickened beaks. The size of whale birds does not exceed Cape doves. Whale birds create their nests on the Antarctic coast.

Many species are included in the common genus:

Birds of this genus roam the Atlantic, the Pacific Ocean, and cross the Indian Ocean. Preference is given to the Southern Ocean. There are very rare species among birds of this genus. For example: Bermuda typhoon. The history of this bird is very characteristic of petrels. In the 17th century, people actively developed Bermuda. Animals arrived with the colonists. Such as cats and rats. As a result of the meeting of birds and animals introduced to the islands, the Bermuda typhoons practically disappeared.

  • Thick-billed petrel.

This particular genus of birds is simply called petrels. That is, the species included in the genus are endowed with the ability to warn of an impending storm. The shapes and sizes of the beaks of whale birds and thick-billed petrels are very similar.

The genus claims the title of true petrels:

  • A real petrel.

This is the most extensive genus of birds. Scientists include up to 25 species in it. Their nests can be found from the coast of Iceland to Hawaii and California. The genus includes birds of medium size. The spread wings are no longer than 1.2 m. The genus is named after real petrels for a reason. During the season, these nomads can cover a distance of 65,000 km.

Lifestyle and habitat

The habitat of petrels is the world ocean. Only during the mating season do they find themselves in their homeland. Wandering petrel always creates his nest where he received life.

On land, birds are expected not only to take care of the offspring, but also to enemies. First of all, people. In southern Chile, archaeologists have found evidence that the Midden tribe ate seabirds, including petrels, 5,000 years ago.

Aborigines and sailors traditionally and in large quantities collected eggs, chicks and adults. This process has not stopped even now. As a result, some species have practically disappeared.

The location of nests in inaccessible places does not always save people from people and does not completely protect against ground predators. Some bird species have been seriously affected by the appearance of cats, rats and other introduced (introduced by humans) animals on the remote islands.

Collective defense saves from attackers from the air. Certain species of petrels have learned to spew out a foul-smelling, corrosive liquid, with the help of which they drive away enemies.


Mostly petrels feed on fish, crustaceans and squid. Any protein food of a suitable size can be eaten. We are always ready to profit from the remnants of someone else's meal. To do this, they follow the flocks of sea animals. Accompanied by fishing and passenger ships. They never disdain the dead birds and animals on the water surface.

Only giant petrels can occasionally hunt on land. They attack chicks left unattended. It has been noticed that males are more inclined to ruin other people's nests and kidnap chicks.

Petrels belonging to the genus of whale birds have plates in their beaks that form a kind of filter. The bird moves in the surface layer of water in a manner called aquaplaning. For this he uses paws and wings. The bird lets water through its beak, filters out and absorbs plankton.