Antarctic Birds

Antarctic Birds

Aside from penguins, Antarctica has many other species of birds. Even if you include penguins, there are only 35 species of sea birds in Antarctica, with the most famous probably being the giant albatross. Each year when the Austral summer begins, millions of birds arrive for breeding purposes which from their perspective is mostly a paradise. Although there are predators in Antarctica from the sea and other birds; there are no land predators. The birds also enjoy a basically unlimited food supply due to rich marine wildlife in the oceans.

Antarctica Black Browed Albatross

Above are two different black-browed albatrosses. This species of albatross typically have wingspans between 7 and 8 feet (close to 2.5 meters). Albatrosses spend the majority of their life in the air using their giant wingspans to glide. Their wings are capable of locking in place so they can glide almost effortlessly, sometimes they cover up to a thousand miles in a few days!

Antarctica Giant Petrel

Another impressive glider is the giant petrel. Although their wing spans might look bigger from this photo, they usually top off around feet feet. The (close to two meters). Like the albatross, the giant petrel uses the strong winds of the Antarctic ocean to glide while they search for food. Unlike the Albatross however, the giant petrel spends much more time on land, and will actually aggressively hunt other birds for food as well.

Antarctica Squa

A much smaller but more aggressive bird than the giant petrel is the squa. This bird of prey is known for raiding penguin colonies, stealing babies, and other acts of violence. For this reason they’ve earned their nickname, the ‘raptor of the south’.

Antarctica Giant Petrel Eating White Bird

I didn’t see this giant petrel hunt, but found one that was feeding off a baby penguin. While the petrel was eating several other penguins gathered around and would chase the petrel away, but he would always return. The giant petrel is the largest of the almost 100 different species of petrels. Other species I saw while in Antarctica were cape petrels, and this one on the right that I believe to be called a snow petrel.