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the web of life in southern Africa

Pachyptila turtur (Fairy prion) 

SwartstertwalvisvoŽl [Afrikaans]; Duifprion [Dutch]; Prion colombe [French]; Feensturmvogel [German]; Painho-filtrador-de-cauda-preta [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 turtur (Fairy prion)   

Fairy prion, offshore from New South Wales, Australia. [photo Ryan Shaw ©]


Distribution and habitat

Breeds at sub-Antarctic and south temperate islands in the austral summer, as well as at south-west and central Indian Ocean and South-west Pacific islands. It is a rare vagrant to southern Africa, with isolated records of stranded birds between June-November along the coast, from KwaZulu-Natal to southern Namibia.


It mainly eats small crustaceans (especially amphipods and euphausiids), supplemented with small fish and squid, doing most of its foraging by grabbing prey from the water surface or occasionally diving to greater depths.


Not threatened, with a world population of approximately five million individuals.


  • 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.