Latin name: Halobaena caerulea

Blue Petrel - photo: unknown

Blue Petrel – photo: unknown

Population: The Blue Petrel has a large global population estimated to be at least 3,000,000 individuals.

Cites classified: Least Concern (IUCN, 2008)

Where found: The Blue Petrel has a typical circumpolar distribution and flies over all the seas from the temperate latitudes along the coasts of Africa, Australia and South America to near the Antarctic continent. A marine pelagic bird, it does not venture into the pack ice in the far South. Their breeding colonies can be found on Marion Island and Prince Edward Island, the Crozet Islands, the Kerguelen archipelago, Macquarie Island and South Georgia.

Wingspan: 62-71 cm

Length: 26-32 cm

Weight: 152-251 g

Mating/Breeding: The Blue Petrel nest on lower seaward-facing slopes, often with dense tussac grass, in self-excavated burrows 15-37 cm deep. They lay one egg in October. Both parents incubate the egg for around 50 days. After hatching the chick takes around 55 days to fledge.

Eggs: White.

Hibernation: Africa, Australia and South America.

Hunting Habits: The Blue Petrel take their food mainly by surface-seizing and dipping, but will also dive and plunge.

Feed on: The Blue Petrel feeds mostly on crustaceans in some parts of their range, but takes more fish in other parts.

Threats: The Blue Petrel are affected by the presence of cats, rats and pigs on some of the islands on which they breed.

Colour/Looks: The Blue Petrel’s plumage, which is white on the underside of the body and grey with the distinct M banding across the uppersides resembles the prions; it differs from them by its smaller bill and the distinctive white tip to its tail.

Interesting Trivia:

  • This small petrel is the only member of the genus Halobaena but is closely allied to the prions.
  • The Blue Petrel can dive for to at least 6 metres.

Geographic Distribution

Blue Petrel Habitat

Blue Petrel Habitat

More info:

  • Hadoram Shirihai, A complete guide to Antarctic wildlife (2002)
  • David McGonigal & Lynn Woodworth, Antarctica and the Arctic. The complete encyclopedia (2001)
  • Tony Soper, Antarctica. A guide to the wildlife (2000)