OFILE Southern giant petrel

The white variety (morph) of the southern giant petrel is found in only 15% of the population and is easily distinguished from the dark morph.

Tail

In flight

With a wingspan of up to 6', the petrel unfolds its wings and seems to float into the air. The dark morph (left), with its dark gray-brown body and whitish head and neck, is easily distinguished from the white morph.

White morph plumage

TUBENOSE

The large nasal tubes, on top of the upper mandible, extend for three-fifths the length of the bill. Salt secreting glands, located internally above the eye, allow the petrel to process seawater by secreting salt from the body. The bird secretes collected salt into the nasal tubes, from which the salty liquid is forcibly sneezed.

The white morph is pure white with scattered black feathers. Adult plumage color in either morph does not indicate the sex of the bird.

The short and rounded tail, used for steering in flight, has 16 retrices (tail feathers), more than other petrels.

vital statistics

Bill

The 4.5"-long bill is strong, hooked and specialized for tearing flesh. The sharp cutting edges enable the petrel to slice through muscles and ligaments.

The white morph is pure white with scattered black feathers. Adult plumage color in either morph does not indicate the sex of the bird.

The 4.5"-long bill is strong, hooked and specialized for tearing flesh. The sharp cutting edges enable the petrel to slice through muscles and ligaments.

Lifespan 25 years

CREATURE COMPARISONS

The northern giant petrel (Macronectes halli) and southern giant petrel are identical in size. But while the dark morph of the southern giant petrel closely resembles the northern giant petrel, there is no corresponding "pale" phase in the northern species.The northern petrel has more uniformly colored underparts than its relative and a pinkish, rather than green-tipped, bill.The northern giant petrel, as its name suggests, is found in sub-antarctic regions and seeks sheltered areas for breeding; the southern petrel breeds farther south in the open expanses of the antarctic.

Weight

Length

Wingspan

Sexual Maturity

Breeding Season

- Number of Eggs

Incubation Period

Fledging Period

Breeding Interval

Typical Diet

36-39"

6-7 years

October-November

55-66 days 104-132 days 1-3 years

Penguin chicks, gulls, squid, fish and scraps of carrion

Lifespan 25 years

[related species

• The southern giant petrel is one of two species in the genus Macronectes. The southern and northern giants are among 70 species of "tubenoses" in the family Procellariidae. This family of medium to large sea-birds includes prions, fulmar-petrels and shearwaters. The snow petrel, Pagodroma nivea, is all white, perfect camouflage in the packed ice it frequents.

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