Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Photo: Dan Irizarry/Flickr Creative Commons
|Conservation status||Total population certainly runs to many millions. Despite its abundance, this species (like many other seabirds) would be vulnerable to pollution, overfishing, or other degradation of the Antarctic Ocean.|
|Habitat||Open ocean. Widespread at sea, from tropical and subtropical waters to edges of pack ice. Off North America mainly over continental shelf, may concentrate over upwellings and where warm and cool water currents meet, as along edges of Gulf Stream. Seldom close to land in nonbreeding season.|
Takes food from surface of water. Forages mostly by hovering with feet touching water and picking at surface with bill, also by dropping into water and then resuming flight, sometimes by picking at items while swimming.
One. White, usually with reddish-brown dots at larger end. Incubation is by both sexes, usually 40-50 days, sometimes 38-59. Young: Fed by both parents. Period from hatching to departure from nest (46-97 days) varies considerably, probably depends on rate of feeding. Young is independent of parents after leaving nest and going to sea.
Fed by both parents. Period from hatching to departure from nest (46-97 days) varies considerably, probably depends on rate of feeding. Young is independent of parents after leaving nest and going to sea.
Small crustaceans, fish. Feeds mainly on crustaceans (especially euphausiid shrimp and amphipods) and small fish, also small squid, marine worms, other small organisms. Scavenges at natural oil slicks and carrion, and will follow ships to pick at offal.
Breeds on islands and cliffs of Antarctic region and around southern South America. Nesting is generally November to May. Males may arrive at nesting sites first, and unmated males may sit near nest entrance and call to defend site and attract female. Nest: Site is in crevice or hole in cliff, among rock piles, or in burrow. Nest chamber usually lined with feathers and moss, sometimes bare.
Moves north in March to May, most commonly in Atlantic and Indian oceans, many crossing Equator. Common off eastern North America during northern summer. Fair numbers have been found recently far off the California coast, but status in North Pacific is still poorly known.
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