Magellanic Diving-petrel (Pelecanoides magellani)

Magellanic Diving-petrel

[order] PROCELLARIIFORMES | [family] Pelecanoididae | [latin] Pelecanoides magellani | [authority] Mathews, 1912 | [UK] Magellanic Diving-petrel | [FR] Puffinure de Magellan | [DE] Magellan-Lummensturmvogel | [ES] Potoyunco Magallanico | [NL] Magelhaenalkstormvogeltje


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

This 20cm bird is the easiest of its family to identify at sea. Like other diving petrels, it is a compact bird, mainly black above and white below, and similar in shape and size to a Little Auk, the resemblances with that unrelated seabird being due to convergence evolution, since both dive for fish.

However, the Magellanic Diving-petrel is the only species with white fringes to the upperpart feathers, and a sharply defined face pattern, so with reasonable views it can be distinguished from its relatives. Sexes are similar, but juveniles lack the white upperpart fringes.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 19 cm size max.: 20 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 1  


South America : South coasts. The Magellanic Diving-petrel is found on the southern tip of South America, from south-central Chile to the extreme south of Argentina


This species is found mainly over inshore and offshore waters, feeding by diving under water both from the surface and the air. Breeding begins in November or December in colonies, mostly on small inshore islands in channels and fjords. It has been recorded up to 128 km from land


These birds nest in colonies on islands. One white egg is laid in a burrow in turf or soft soil. They are nocturnal at the breeding colonies.

Feeding habits

Little data available, hunts by diving under water, usually from the surface but also from air.

Video Magellanic Diving-petrel


copyright: Joe Angseesing


This species has a very 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 may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to 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.
Magellanic Diving-petrel status Least Concern


Presumed sedentary, but will disperse from breeding grounds. Found up to 130 km from coast.

Distribution map

Magellanic Diving-petrel distribution range map

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