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Broad-billed Prion

From Opus

Identified by steep forehead and heavy bill. Photo © by Joseph MorlanSouth Atlantic Ocean - High Seas, (-41.1°,-16.3°) 9 March 2018.
Identified by steep forehead and heavy bill.
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
South Atlantic Ocean - High Seas, (-41.1°,-16.3°) 9 March 2018.
Pachyptila vittata


[edit] Identification

25-30cm (10"-12")
Heaviest-billed of all the prions, with steep forehead giving a bull-headed appearance.

  • Grey upperparts
  • Dark cap
  • Black "W" on wings
  • White underparts
  • Black tail tip
  • Broad flat bill with comb-like fringes.

[edit] Distribution

Subantarctic and subtropical seas from SE Atlantic to New Zealand, breeding in southern South Island, New Zealand including islets off Stewart Island, Snares Island and Chatham Island; Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island.

Ranges to Southern Africa (Namibia and South Africa) and Australia.

[edit] Taxonomy

This is a monotypic species[1].

A similar prion with narrower bill and more sloping head profile has been found breeding on Gough Island. It has been provisionally identified as a form of Salvin's Prion or sometimes split as a separate species MacGillivray's Prion. However it has not yet been formally described.[3].

[edit] Habitat

Open sea; islands for breeding.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

The diet includes planktonic crustaceans; it uses its bill to filter food from the water.

[edit] Breeding

They nest in burrows on islands. The single egg is incubated for 50 days and the young fledges 50 days later.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Carboneras, C., Jutglar, F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Broad-billed Prion (Pachyptila vittata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 June 2018).
  3. Ryan, Peter & Bourgeois, Karen & Dromzée, Sylvain & Dilley, Ben. (2014). The occurrence of two bill morphs of prions Pachyptila vittata on Gough Island. Polar Biology. 37. 727-735. 10.1007/s00300-014-1473-2.
  4. BirdLife International
  5. Wikipedia

[edit] External Links


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