Latin name: Pachyptila turtur

Fairy prion- photo unknown

Fairy prion- photo unknown

Population: The Fairy prion has a large global population estimated to be 5,000,000 individuals.

Cites classified: Least Concern (IUCN, 2008)

Where found: Little is known of the distribution of Fairy prions, but they are probably circumpolar. They breed on most sub-Antarctic islands.

Wingspan: 56-60 cm

Length: 23-28 cm

Weight: 88-175 g

Mating/Breeding: The Fairy prion breed in burrows on cliffs and rock falls; or in grassland with limited vegetation. Breeding begins in September, and they incubate their egg for about 55 days. They feed their chick for 43 to 56 days, and then all the birds leave the colony.

Eggs: White.

Hibernation: Subtropical waters off the coasts of Australia and South Africa.

Hunting Habits: The Fairy prion flies just above the surface of the ocean. It hunts by surface-seizing, dipping, pattering or surface-plunging. Fairy Prions regularly feed in large flocks, sometimes with other seabirds.

Feed on: The Fairy prion eats mostly krill, copepods and amphipods.

Threats: Skuas are their natural predators.

Colour/Looks: The Fairy prion are smaller, less dark and less distinctly marked about the head than the broad-billed prion. The Fairy prion has wider and more expansive black bands on the trailing edge of the upper tail and lacks a central dark streak on the undertail. The blue bill is comparatively narrow and has a bulbous tip.

Interesting Trivia:

  • The Fairy prion is the smallest of all prions.
  • The Fairy prion rarely follows boats, although it has been known to gather around fishing boats to take oil from water.

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)