Pelecanoididae

South Georgia Diving Petrel Pelecanoides georgicus ©Mike Danzenbaker Website

The diving petrels are seabirds in the bird order Procellariiformes. There are five very similar species all in the family Procellariidae and genus Pelecanoides (Lacépède, 1799), distinguished only by small differences in the coloration of their plumage, habitat, and bill construction. They are only found in the Southern Hemisphere. Most authorities place the diving petrels in their own family, the Pelecanoididae.

Diving petrels are auk-like small petrels of the southern oceans. The resemblances with the auks are due to convergent evolution, since both families feed by pursuit diving, although some researchers have in the past suggested that the similarities are due to relatedness. Among the Procellariiformes the diving petrels are the family most adapted to life in the sea rather than flying over it, and are generally found closer inshore than other families in the order.

They are plankton feeders, taking mostly crustacean prey such as krill, copepods and the amphipod Themisto gaudichaudii, also taking small fish and squid. They have several adaptations for obtaining their prey including short powerful wings, a gular pouch for storing food, and their nostrils open upwards rather than pointing forward as in other tubenoses.

Species List

According to the IOC there are just five species of diving petrels:

Peruvian Diving-Petrel Pelecanoides garnotii
Magellanic Diving-Petrel Pelecanoides magellani
South Georgia Diving-Petrel Pelecanoides georgicus
Common Diving-Petrel Pelecanoides urinatrix
Whenua Hou Diving Petrel Pelecanoides whenuahouensis

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 4

Useful Reading
  • Field Guide to the Albatrosses, Petrels and Shearwaters of the World

    | By Derek Onley & Paul Scofield | Christopher Helm | 2007 | 224 pages, 46 colour plates, distribution maps | ISBN: 9780713643329 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Seabirds - a natural history

    | By Anthony J Gaston | A&C Black | 2004 | Hardback | 222 pages, 22 colour plates, b/w photos, illustrations, figures | ISBN: 9780713665574 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Organisations
  • Southern Oceans Seabird Study Association

    Website
    SOSSA was founded by members of the New South Wales Albatross Study Group (NSWASG) in 1994. It was set up to be an umbrella organisation for many study groups concerned with studies of Southern Ocean bio-diversity. SOSSA is a wildlife research and conservation group which consists of dedicated people both professional and amateur. These people share a common interest and concern for the environment and the wildlife of the Southern Oceans
  • The Seabird Group

    Website
    The Seabird Group, a registered charity, was founded in 1966 to promote and help coordinate the study and conservation of seabirds
Other Links
  • Seabird Osteology

    Website
    The Seabirds Skull Gallery, existing since 2002, has only been changed a bit and was given a new name that covers the subject more properly. After two years working on this site it is not only skulls anymore that are shown. Regular visitors have already noticed that since December 2004 the scope has widened. It now includes also other parts of the seabird skeleton. In the Seabird Osteology section general aspects of seabird osteology are treated and in the species section you willl find a listing of families and groups with links to pages on skeletons of particular species or groups. There is always work in progress, which means that there will be additions and improvements from time to time…

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