Common Diving-petrel (Pelecanoides urinatrix)

Common Diving-petrel

[order] PROCELLARIIFORMES | [family] Pelecanoididae | [latin] Pelecanoides urinatrix | [authority] Gmelin, 1789 | [UK] Common Diving-petrel | [FR] Puffinure plongeur | [DE] Lummensturmvogel | [ES] Potoyunco Comun | [NL] Alkstormvogeltje


Monotypic species


The genus Pelecanoides is a peculiar group of small petrels form the Southern Hemisphere. In appearance and superficially similar tot the Little Auk or Dovekie from the North, but not related. The phylogeny of the Diving Petrels is not much investigated yet. Garnotti diverged from ll other tubenoses about 45.8 My ago, later followed by the divergence of urninatrix some 25.5 My ago. From this lineage georgicus and magellanicus diverged about 18.6 My ago. Diving Petrels are confined to the Southern Hemisphere. The Peruvian Diving Petrel is a bird of the South American west coast along the coast of Peru and Northern Chile. The distribution of the Magellanic Diving Petrel is limited around southern Patagonia and South-Gerogian is an endemic to the island it was named after. Only the six subspecies of the Common Diving Petrel can be found around the globe in subantarctic zone. As the name says, Diving Petrels are very capable divers and fourage on small euphausids and copepods. Although they look very similar to the smallest Alcids, Diving Petrels use the typical tubenose propulsion techniques: combinend use of wings and feet, where Alcids use only wings for propulsion. Diving Petrels can reach depths of 60 m (urinatrix) tot 80 m (garnotti). The flight of Diving Petrels is mainly by fast flapping, whirring wings, reminsicent to the flight of a bumblebee (Onley & Scofield 2007). Like other petrels all Diving Petrels are not very good walkers.

Physical charateristics

Common diving petrel are dark to black above and white below, with short, rounded wings, a stubby black bill, short cobalt-blue feet and legs. The feet and legs of adults become brighter during the breeding season

wingspan min.: 30 cm wingspan max.: 38 cm
size min.: 20 cm size max.: 25 cm
incubation min.: 53 days incubation max.: 55 days
fledging min.: 45 days fledging max.: 59 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 1  


Southern Ocean : widespread. The Common Diving-petrel has 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).


This species can normally occurs over inshore waters but can also be found over offshore waters.


breeding season is variable according to locality, forming colonies with up to 1500 individuals in burrows on steep slopes and also on flat ground of oceanic islands. Colonies are normally coastal, but may occur well inland. They nest in burrows or tunnels 25-150cm long, 0.2-1.0m deep and with an entrance 5-8 cm in diameter. Clutch size is 1 egg which incubated for eight weeks by both parents. The chick fledges after about 7-8 weeks. This species reaches sexual maturity after 2-3 years.

Feeding habits

Diet comprises mainly of planktonic crustaceans which are caught under water in pursuit-diving either from the surface or after plunging.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Common Diving-petrel status Least Concern


Very little known; presumably fairly sedentary, remaining throughout year in waters adjacent to the colony, but movements at sea difficult to detect. Some dispersal northwards, e.g. from Falklands to N Argentina; may be more pelagic in dispersal than other species, and possibly even migratory to some extent

Distribution map

Common Diving-petrel distribution range map

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