Latin name: Pterodroma lessonii

White Headed Petrel - Photo: unknown

White Headed Petrel – Photo: unknown

Population: The White-headed Petrel has a large global population estimated to be 200,000 individuals.

Cites classified: Least Concern (IUCN, 2008)

Where found: The White-headed Petrel range throughout the sub-Antarctic from about latitude 30°S to the pack ice in the South. They breed on most sub-Antarctic islands except South Georgia, but are less common in the South Atlantic.

Wingspan: 109 cm

Length: 40-46 cm

Weight: 580-810 g

Mating/Breeding: The White-headed Petrel start breeding in November/December in large self-excavated burrows, on flat ground with tussac grassland. It lays one egg, incubated for about 60 days. The chicks fledge after 102 days. Some successful breeders may nest only in alternate years.

Eggs: White.

Hunting Habits: The White-headed Petrel take their food by surface-seizing.

Feed on: Cephalopods and crustaceans.

Threats: The White-headed Petrel are not globally threatened, but many of them are taken by cats, rats and skuas.

Colour/Looks: The White-headed Petrel has a white head and underbody that contrast with the dark underwings. The white of the throat and head becomes grey on the mantle, darkening towards the tail, and a broad, dark eye line gives them a masked appearance.

Interesting Trivia:

  • Also known as White-Headed Fulmar
  • The White-headed petrel is powerful and fast in flight.

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)