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the web of life in southern Africa

Pterodroma lessonii (White-headed petrel) 

Witkopstormvoël [Afrikaans]; Witkopstormvogel [Dutch]; Pétrel de Lesson [French]; Weißkopf-sturmvogel [German]; Freira-de-cabeça-branca [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

Distribution and habitat

Breeds at Kuerguelen, Macquire, Antipodes, Crozets and Aukland Island, after which it disperses across southern oceans between 30-65° South. It is a rare vagrant to southern Africa, with isolated records in the south-west corner of the region as well closer to the South African coast.


It mainly eats squid and crustaceans, doing most of its foraging by grabbing prey from the water surface.


Not threatened, although negatively affected by the introduction of pigs, rats and cats and 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.