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Snow Petrel

Liz Bonnin presents an Antarctic specialist, the delicate-looking snow petrel.

Tweet of the Day is the voice of birds and our relationship with them, from around the world.

Liz Bonnin presents an Antarctic specialist, the delicate looking snow petrel. On a wind blasted Antarctic iceberg, small white hummocks sprout beaks to bicker and flirt with each other. These are snow petrels, one of the hardiest bird species in the world. Few bird species breed in the Antarctic and fewer still are so intimately bound to the landscape of snow and ice. But the near pure white snow petrel makes its home in places where temperatures can plummet to -40 Celsius and below. Returning to their breeding areas from October, the nest is a skimpy affair nothing more than a pebble-lined scrape in a hollow or rocky crevice where the parents rear their single chick on a diet of waxy stomach oil and carrion. But for a bird of such purity the snow petrel has a ghoulish diet, foraging at whale and seal carcasses along the shore. Although it breeds on islands such as South Georgia which are north of the summer pack ice, the snow petrel's true home is among snow and ice of its Antarctic home.

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2 minutes

Snow Petrel (Pagodroma nivea)

Webpage image courtesy of Doug Allan /

NPL Ref 01369730 © Doug Allan /


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