Also known as Black-faced Sheathbill
Latin name: Chionis minor
Population: The Lesser Sheathbill has a population of approx. 13,000-20,000 individuals.
Conservation status: Least Concern (IUCN, 2008)
Where found: The Lesser Sheathbill is restricted to sub-Antarctic islands in the southern Indian Ocean: the South African territory of the Prince Edward Islands, the French territories of the Crozet Islands and Kerguelen Islands, and the Australian territory of Heard Island.
Wingspan: 74-79 cm
Length: 38-41 cm
Weight: 450-760 g
Mating/Breeding: The Lesser Sheathbill almost always nests in close association with penguin or other seabird colonies. The Lesser Sheathbill breeds between October and April (eggs in December/January, chicks in January/February). It lays 1 to 4 eggs, incubated for 27 to 33 days. The chicks fledge at 55-60 days.
Hunting Habits: Scavengers.
Feed on: The Lesser Sheathbills are omnivorous, scavenging fish, krill etc around seabird colonies, feeding on carcasses, human refuse and eggs and chicks, especially of penguins, as well as a variety of terrestrial invertebrates, particularly in winter.
Threats: Not globally threatened, though sharp declines due to feral-cats predation reported on Île aux Cochons and parts of Kerguelen.
Colour/Looks: The Lesser Sheathbill has a black sheath and caruncles, and pink eye-rings. Leg colour varies from pink to black, depending on the subspecies.
- Four separate subspecies of the Lesser Sheathbill occur on sub-Antarctic islands in the Indian Ocean, one resident on Iles Kerguelen, one on Iles Crozet, one on Marion and Prince Edward islands and one on Heard and McDonald Islands.
- Hadoram Shirihai, A complete guide to Antarctic wildlife (2002)
- David McGonigal & Lynn Woodworth, Antarctica and the Arctic. The complete encyclopedia (2001)