Latin name: Pelecanoides urinatrix

Common Diving Petrel

Common Diving Petrel

Longevity: The average life expectancy of Common Diving Petrel is believed to be no more than 3-4 years.

Population: Several million pairs.

Cites classified: Least Concern (IUCN, 2008)

Where found: Common diving-petrel have been recorded from waters ranging from the subtropics to the sub-Antarctic, usually between 35° and 55°S. They are widely distributed over southern Australian and New Zealand waters.

Wingspan: 32 cm

Length: 18-22 cm

Weight: 90-150 g

Mating/Breeding: Common Diving-petrel nest on coastal plains and slopes on cliff edges and behind stable dunes. They nest in burrows or tunnels that are 25-150 cm long, 0.2-1.0 m deep and with an entrance 5-8 cm in diameter. It lays one egg between July and December, incubated for about 53 days. The chicks fledge in 45 to 59 days.

Eggs: White.

Hunting Habits: They take their food by pursuit-diving and pursuit-plunging.

Feed on: Mostly marine crustaceans, particularly euphausiids and copepods while rearing chicks.

Threats: Swamp Harriers, Kelp gull, skuas and giant-petrel take considerable numbers of adults and young each year. Cats and rats have taken a heavy toll on some islands. Cattle and sheep may trample burrows and nesting habitat.

Colour/Looks: They are dark to black above and white below, with short, rounded wings, a stubby black bill, short cobalt-blue feet and legs. The feet and legs of adults become brighter during the breeding season.

Interesting Trivia:

  • Also known as Georgian Diving-petrel
  • This diving petrel was discovered at Queen Charlotte Sound in 1773 during Cook’s second voyage.
  • As their name suggests diving petrels are excellent divers. They fly close to the water with rapid wing beats and have the ability to fly straight through waves. They will dive into the water whenever threatened by an approaching boat or predatory seabird and may use their wings to fly underwater.

More info:

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