Shorelines Animals

Snowy Sheathbill
Snowy Sheathbill
Class: Aves: Birds Diet: Fish, young birds, seaweed, carrion
Order: Charadriiformes: Auks, Waders, Laris
Size: 39 cm (15 1/4 in)
Family: Chionididae: Sheathbills Conservation Status: Non-threatened
Scientific Name: Chionis alba Habitat: coasts
Range: Subantarctic islands of the southern Atlantic Ocean, extending to Graham Land and southern South America when not breeding

Size of Snowy SheathbillSnowy sheathbills are gregarious and pugnacious birds, and except during the breeding season, they live in small flocks, feeding together and often fighting. Although they fly well and will make long journeys, even over sea, they spend most of their time on the ground. They swim well although their feet have only rudimentary webs. Sheathbills are avid scavengers and haunt seal and penguin colonies to seize afterbirths or weak young. They also search the shore for all kinds of fish, invertebrates, carcasses and almost any other debris that they can eat. They consume quantities of seaweed for the invertebrates that it harbors.  Sheathbills nest in isolated pairs in a crevice or among rocks. The 2 or 3 eggs are laid on feathers, seaweed and other soft material. Both male and female incubate the eggs for a total of 28 days, but it seems as if only 1 chick is actually reared as a general rule.  In winter, sheathbills in the extreme south of the range migrate north, but those on subantarctic islands usually remain there. The other species in this family, the black-billed sheathbill, C. minor, occurs in the subantarctic sector of the Indian Ocean.

Range of Snowy Sheathbill
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