List of birds of Antarctica

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An adult emperor penguin.

This is a list of the bird species recorded in Antarctica. The avifauna of Antarctica includes a total of 45 species, of which 1 is endemic. This list's taxonomic treatment (designation and sequence of orders, families and species) and nomenclature (common and scientific names) follow the conventions of The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World 5th edition. The family accounts at the beginning of each heading reflect this taxonomy, as do the species counts found in each family account.


Emperor penguin, Aptenodytes forsteri

Order: Sphenisciformes. Family: Spheniscidae

The penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid and other forms of sealife caught while swimming underwater. There are seventeen species worldwide, seven of which occur in Antarctica.


Wandering albatross, Diomedea exulans

Order: Procellariiformes. Family: Diomedeidae

The albatrosses are among the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses from the genus Diomedea have the largest wingspans of any extant birds. There are 21 species worldwide and 5 species which occur in Antarctica.

Shearwaters and petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes. Family: Procellariidae

The procellariids are the main group of medium-sized "true petrels", characterised by united nostrils with a medium septum, and a long outer functional primary. There are 75 species worldwide and 18 species which occur in Antarctica.

Broad-billed prion, Pachyptila vittata

Storm petrels[edit]

Wilson's storm petrel, Garrodia nereis

Order: Procellariiformes. Family: Hydrobatidae

The storm petrels are relatives of the petrels, and are the smallest seabirds. They feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. The flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like. There are 21 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Antarctica.

Diving petrels[edit]

Order: Procellariiformes. Family: Pelecanoididae

Common diving petrel, Pelecanoides urinatrix

The diving petrels are small auk-like birds found in the southern oceans. They feed on krill, copepods, small fish and squid. There are 4 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Antarctica.


Antarctic shag, Phalacrocorax bransfieldensis

Order: Pelecaniformes. Family: Phalacrocoracidae

Phalacrocoracidae is a family of medium to large coastal, fish-eating seabirds that includes cormorants and shags. Plumage colouration varies, with the majority having mainly dark plumage, some species being black-and-white, and a few being colourful. There are 38 species worldwide and 3 species which occur in Antarctica.

Ducks, geese and swans[edit]

Order: Anseriformes. Family: Anatidae

Yellow-billed pintail, Anas georgica

Anatidae includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swans. These are birds that are adapted to an aquatic existence with webbed feet, flattened bills, and feathers that are excellent at shedding water due to an oily coating. There are 131 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Antarctica.


Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Chionididae

Snowy sheathbill, Chionis alba

The sheathbills are scavengers of the Antarctic regions. They have white plumage, and look plump and dove-like, but are believed to be similar to the ancestors of the modern gulls and terns. There are 2 species worldwide, 1 of which occurs in Antarctica.

Skuas and jaegers[edit]

Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Stercorariidae

South polar skua, Stercorarius maccormicki

The family Stercorariidae are, in general, medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown plumage, often with white markings on the wings. They nest on the ground in temperate and arctic regions and are long-distance migrants. There are 7 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Antarctica.


Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Laridae

Kelp gull, Larus dominicanus

Laridae is a family of medium to large seabirds, the gulls and kittiwakes. They are typically grey or white, often with black markings on the head or wings. They have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. There are 55 species worldwide and 1 species which occurs in Antarctica.


Order: Charadriiformes. Family: Sternidae

Antarctic tern, Sterna vittata

Terns are a group of generally medium to large seabirds typically with grey or white plumage, often with black markings on the head. Most terns hunt fish by diving but some pick insects off the surface of fresh water. Terns are generally long-lived birds, with several species known to live in excess of 30 years. There are 44 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Antarctica.

See also[edit]