Latin name: Pachyptila vittata

Broad Billed Prion - photo unknown

Broad Billed Prion – photo unknown

Population: The Broad-billed Prion has a large global population estimated to be more than 15,000,000 individuals.

Cites classified: Least Concern (IUCN, 2008)

Where found: The Broad-billed PrionĀ is found throughout oceans and coastal areas in the Southern Hemisphere. The Broad-billed Prion’s colonies can be found on Gough Island, Marion Island, and on the sub-Antarctic Antipodes Islands off the coast of New Zealand.

Wingspan: 57-66 cm

Length: 25-30 cm

Weight: 170-237 g

Mating/Breeding: Breeding begins quite early, in July or August, on coastal slopes all around the Southern Ocean. The parents incubate the egg for 50 days, and then spend another 50 days raising the chick.

Eggs: White.

Hibernation: The young may winter as far north as Australia, South Africa and South America, while the adults are more sedentary, probably not going far from the breeding places, which they will visit occasionally, even outside the season.

Hunting Habits: The Broad-billed Prion feeds by hydroplaning, using their specialized bill to filter food from the water.

Feed on: The Broad-billed Prion lives on small planktonic crustaceans.

Threats: Their main predators are skuas, although on islands, cats and rats have caused trouble and reduced their numbers drastically.

Colour/Looks: The characteristic blue-grey of prions is somewhat darker in this species, especially around the head. The white superciliary stripe sits on top of a longer black eye-stripe. The lower part of the head is white, giving a distinctive white chin effect. Upperparts are pale blue-grey and underparts white. The upperwing too, is pale blue-grey, well marked with a broad and open M-mark. A blue-grey tail is tipped with black. From below, the tail has a dark streak extending inwards from the terminal black band.

Interesting Trivia:

  • As the Broad-billed Prion’s name suggests, it has the largest bill of the prions.

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)