Snow Petrels at Nest
 - Pagadroma nivea

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Snow Petrels at Nest - Pagadroma nivea

Unusually for Antarctic birds, snow petrels seem to apply some thought to the practicalities of a nest site. This pair are at the entrance to their nest which has been made in a natural crevice amongst some large broken-up rocks. This is a frequent choice for a nest site though not always available or in plentiful supply as snow petrels nest very far south and such crevices are frequently snowed or iced up.

Attempting to approach a nest (as I did on many occasions when helping in a long term programme on nesting success) brings out the worst in snow petrels. A well aimed stream of foul smelling, bright pink, oily, semi-digested krill mixed with oily stomach secretions would come in your direction in their (admirably unpleasant) defence mechanism.

Snow petrels have been known to nest far inland on the Antarctic continent, nearly 200km. from the nearest sea that they must travel to in order to feed. They must nest on rock and in these cases choose "nunataks" isolated outcrops of tall rock ridges and mountains that protrude above the surrounding ice from the bed rock.

Photo; © Paul Ward - Pictures taken on Signy Island, South Orkneys, Antarctica.