Family Petrels, Shearwaters (Procellariidae)

Least Concern

Antarctic Prion (Pachyptila desolata)


French: Prion de la Désolation German: Taubensturmvogel Spanish: Prión antártico
Other common names: Dove Prion

Procellaria desolata

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

Desolation Island = Kerguelen Island


Often treated as conspecific with P. vittata. Up to six races variously accepted, but arrangement is highly disputed, and populations apparently form cline. Typically three subspecies have been recognized, with nominate desolata for Kerguelen and nearby populations, alter for Auckland Is, and banksi for Scotia Arc to South Georgia area; but birds of Heard I variously placed in any of these three races, and those of Macquarie I placed in nominate, alter, or separate race macquariensis. Pending clarification, it seems best not to recognize subspecies meantime#R#R. Treated as monotypic.


Southern Ocean, breeding on Scotia Arc, South Orkney Is, South Georgia and South Sandwich Is, on Crozet, Kerguelen Is, Heard I, Macquarie I and Auckland Is, and on Scott I (Antarctica).

Descriptive notes

25–28 cm; 115–183 g; wingspan 58–66 cm. Upperparts grey to bluish grey, darker slate-grey on forehead and crown, contrasting blackish subterminal band... read more


Very vocal at colonies both on ground and in flight, giving a dove-like cooing; voice, which is... read more


Marine and highly pelagic, occurring in cold waters normally to N of pack ice; generally keeps away... read more

Food and feeding

Mostly crustaceans, especially krill (Euphausia superba), copepods (Calanoides acutus) and also amphipods (especially... read more


Normally starts late Oct/early Nov with return to colony, but occasionally delayed by abundant snow (e.g. at South Georgia), followed by... read more


All birds leave colonies after breeding, probably moving N; recent study using geolocators compared... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Abundant and widespread, with total population of many millions, perhaps in excess of 50 million birds; c. 22,000,000 pairs at South... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C., Jutglar, F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Antarctic Prion (Pachyptila desolata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).