Common Diving Petrel

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Common Name: Common Diving Petrel
Scientific Name: Pelecanoides urinatrix

Size: 7.9–9.8 inches (20-25 cm)

Habitat: Southern Hemisphere; Common Diving-petrels have discrete ranges surrounding oceanic islands in the south Atlantic at South Georgia (Georgias del Sur), the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island (St Helena to UK), in the south Indian Ocean, south and east of New Zealand (e.g. Antipodes Islands), and also on New Zealand's north island and Tasmania (Australia). Very little is known of their range when not breeding, but they are thought to be fairy sedentary, remaining in coastal waters adjacent to their colonies.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 16,000,000 mature individuals. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to predation by invasive species.

Diet: Mostly crustaceans; they catch prey by wing-propelled diving, and are capable of diving to 60 m (200 ft). They are known to forage at night on vertically migrating plankton. Feeding is mostly done in the ocean near the shore, but sometimes in the deeper pelagic zone during non-breeding season, which is only 2 months of the year.

Breeding: The mating habits are not well documented, although pairs form monogamous relationships. Breeding colonies are large and there is about one nest per 1 square meter (11 sq ft). The nest is a burrow around 50 cm long with a chamber at the bottom which may or may not be lined with dried grass. Females lay a single white egg, which measures 38 x 29 mm, and is incubated for 53–55 days. The young are brooded for 10–15 days and fledgling occurs at 45–59 days. Both parents take care of the young, which are grey-grown when hatched. The life expectancy is 6.5 years.

Cool Facts: There are six subspecies, which vary in body measurements, particularly bill size:

  • P. u. urinatrix (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) Australia, North Island (New Zealand)
  • P. u. chathamensis (Murphy & Harper, 1916) Stewart Island, Snares Islands, Chatham Islands (New Zealand)
  • P. u. exsul (Salvin, 1896) South Georgia, subantarctic islands of the Indian Ocean, Auckland Islands, Antipodes Island, Campbell Island
  • P. u. dacunhae (Nicoll, 1906) Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island
  • P. u. berard (Gaimard, 1823) Falkland Islands
  • P. u. coppingeri Mathews, 1912) uncertain, probably southern Chile

Found in Songbird ReMix Seabirds Volume 2

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