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the web of life in southern Africa

Macronectes halli (Northern giant-petrel) 

Grootnellie [Afrikaans]; Noordelijke reuzenstormvogel [Dutch]; Pétrel de Hall [French]; Nördlicher riesensturmvogel [German]; Pardelão-subantárctico [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Ciconiiformes > Family: Procellariidae

Macronectes halli (Northern giant-petrel)  Macronectes halli (Northern giant-petrel) 

Northern giant petrel. [photo Jeff Poklen ©]

Northern giant-petrel, offshore from Cape Town, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds on sub-Antarctic islands, after which it disperses across the southern oceans, mainly staying within 30-64° South including in southern African waters. Here it is fairly common off the southern and western coast, while more scarce in the north-western corner of the region and off the coast of southern Mozambique.

Movements and migrations

Present year-round in southern Africa, but generally most abundant in winter, as most birds return to their breeding colonies in August.


Highly adaptable, as it is an omnivorous predator and scavenger, usually foraging by grabbing prey from the water surface. It may also dive to greater depths, hawk other seabirds aerially or even come ashore to scavenge seal and whale carcasses. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


Near-threatened due to mortalities on longlines; it now has a global population of approximately 11 500 pairs. However, most of its colonies are thankfully increasing in size, probably corresponding to increase in fur seal populations at its breeding colonies.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.