One of only 3 known birds to inhabit the frigid climate of Antarctica, it’s the snow petrel. These beautiful birds can be found on the Antarctic Peninsula and on a variety of Antarctic islands like Géologie Archipelago, South Georgia Islands, South Sandwich Islands, and several islands around the Scotia Arc. They have even been spotted at the south pole. With an estimated population of around 4,000,000, these birds are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Pagodroma nivea
Weight: Up to 9.5 ounces
Length: Up to 16 inches
Wingspan: Up to 31 inches
Lifespan: Up to 20 years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) The snow petrel is diurnal (active during the day).
2.) They eat krill, fish, squid, and occasionally carrion (dead animals).
3.) They are preyed on by Antarctic skuas. Primarily their eggs and chicks are preyed upon.
4.) If threatened, they spit up a foul smelling, oily substance from their stomach at their attacker.
5.) The word “petrel” is taken from Peter the Apostle and is in relation to the story of his allegedly walking on water. This is due to the petrel appearing to run on the water while trying to take off.
But wait, there’s more on the snow petrel!
6.) Snow petrels are monogamous (mate for life).
7.) These birds breed from October – November.
Did you know…?
Snow petrels are almost completely restricted to the cold Antarctic waters. Flocks are typically seen resting on icebergs.
8.) Females lay a single egg in late November to early December.
9.) Snow petrels have a special salt gland located above their nasal passage that assists in desalinating their bodies. They need this due to the high amount of ocean water that they ingest. This explains the salt excreting from their nostrils.
10.) They often bath themselves in the snow.
Now a Short Snow Petrel Video!
Also, check out the Critter Science YouTube channel. Videos added frequently!
Want to suggest a critter for me to write about? Let me know here.