Family Petrels, Shearwaters (Procellariidae)

Least Concern

Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus)


French: Pétrel géant German: Riesensturmvogel Spanish: Abanto marino antártico
Other common names: Antarctic Giant Petrel, Common Giant Petrel

Procellaria gigantea

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

Staten Island, off Tierra del Fuego


For long considered conspecific with sibling M. halli, with which known to have hybridized on occasions. Populations breeding in S Atlantic (S Argentina, Falkland Is, and Gough I) may merit subspecific status as race solanderi#R#R. Monotypic.


Circumpolar in Southern Ocean, breeding in Antarctica and from S Chile and S Argentina E through subantarctic islands to Heard I and Macquarie I.

Descriptive notes

85–100 cm; male 5 kg, female 3·8 kg; wingspan 150–210 cm. Huge, mollymawk-sized petrel with large and strong bill. Adult plumage is generally greyish brown... read more


Gives variety of whinnying, growling, guttural and braying calls, the former likened to a neighing... read more


Marine, ranging from coastal to pelagic waters; occurs S into regions of pack ice and N into... read more

Food and feeding

Carrion, especially carcasses of seals (Arctocephalus) but also whales (Eubalaena australis), penguins (Eudyptes... read more


Starts Sept/Oct (typically six weeks later than in M. halli), though some birds (often failed breeders from previous season) can... read more


Adults probably move little, dispersing only to adjacent waters and generally keeping further S... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Formerly classified as Vulnerable. Total population c. 30,575 breeding pairs (based on data from 1999/2000) and perhaps 100,000... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C., Jutglar, F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus). 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 30 March 2020).