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the web of life in southern Africa

Pachyptila belcheri (Slender-billed prion) 

Dunbekwalvisvoël [Afrikaans]; Dunbekprion [Dutch]; Prion de Belcher [French]; Dünnschnabel-sturmvogel [German]; Painho-filtrador-de-bico-fino [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

Pachyptila belcheri (Slender-billed prion)   

Slender-billed prion, offshore from Cape Town, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]


Distribution and habitat

Breeds at the Falklands and other islands off southern South America, as well as in sub-Antarctic Islands, after which it disperses across the southern oceans all the way down to 65° South. Its status in southern African waters is uncertain, however it is generally scarce, occurring off the coast of the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Movements and migrations

Little known, although it is thought to breed from about late August to February and March, so it is mainly present in southern African waters from May-October.


Generally eats larger animals than filter-feeding prions, with a diet dominated by crustaceans, fish and squid. It mainly forages at night, grabbing prey from the surface or plunge-diving up to a depth of about 3-5 metres.


Not threatened.


  • 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.