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the web of life in southern Africa

Pachyptila desolata (Antarctic prion, Dove prion) 

Antarktiese walvisvoël [Afrikaans]; Antarctische prion [Dutch]; Prion de la Désolation [French]; Taubensturmvogel [German]; Painho-filtrador-antártico [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 desolata (Antarctic prion, Dove prion)  Pachyptila desolata (Antarctic prion, Dove prion) 
Antarctic prion, offshore from Cape Town, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Antarctic prion, offshore from Cape Town, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds on Antarctica and sub-Antarctic islands, migrating north to temperate southern oceans when gets too cold. It is seasonally abundant in across most of southern Africa's waters, while more scarce off the east and north-western coasts.

Movements and migrations

Breeds from October-April, after which it heads north to warmer waters, staying in southern Africa from about May-August.


It mainly eats small planktonic crustaceans, supplemented with fish and trawler offal. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • planktonic crustaceans
    • copepods
    • amphipods
    • decapod larvae
    • euphausiids
  • squid
  • fish
    • lanternfish (Myctophidae)
    • Maurolicus muelleri (Lightfish)
  • other
    • insects
    • seaweed
    • trawler offal


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.