Peruvian diving petrel

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Peruvian diving petrel
Peruvian Diving Petrel Fledge.jpg
Peruvian diving petrel fledgling
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Procellariiformes
Family: Procellariidae
Genus: Pelecanoides
Species: P. garnotii
Binomial name
Pelecanoides garnotii
(Lesson, 1828)

The Peruvian diving petrel (Pelecanoides garnotii) (local name in Peru: potoyunco), is a small seabird that feeds in offshore waters in the Humboldt Current off Peru and Chile. Like the rest of the diving petrels it is a nondescript bird, with a dark back and pale belly, and blue feet, and can be separated from the rest of its family only by differences in its beak and nostrils. Unlike the common diving petrel and the South Georgia diving petrel it feeds in cold, offshore, often pelagic water, obtaining small fish larvae and planktonic crustaceans by pursuit diving. The main part of his food is made up by plankton organisms (85.3-91.1%). The remaining percentage of the Peruvian diving petrels food is fish, mainly anchovies. Peruvian diving petrels can dive up to 83 metres (270 ft) deep but the average depth was recorded at around 30 metres (100 ft). It was long thought that the Peruvian diving petrel was rather bad in flying. However, great numbers of birds have been observed fishing regularly in the area between Asia Island and Pachacamac Island at a distance of 150-200 kilometres north of their Peruvian breeding grounds.

The Peruvian diving petrel has become locally extinct on many of its former colonies and nests nowadays only on a few offshore islands. A total population of 12,216 breeding pairs was estimated for San Gallán and La Vieja Islands in Peru, with some small additional breeding colonies reported for Corcovado Island in Peru, as well as Pan de Azucar Island, Choros islands, Grande and Pajaros islands in Chile. They breed year round, laying a single egg in a burrow dug into guano.

Peruvian diving petrels are considered highly endangered. They formerly numbered in the millions, but the pressures of guano extraction (which destroyed nests, eggs and chicks), being directly taken for food by guano workers and introduced species (particularly foxes and feral cats) have caused the number to crash. Although all of the Peruvian breeding sites are located in protected areas (Paracas National Reserve and Guano Islands National Reserve) some guano extraction still continues and the reserves are ineffectively policed.

The binomial of this species commemorates the French naturalist Prosper Garnot.


  • del Hoyo, Josep, Elliott, Andrew & Sargatal, Jordi (1992). Handbook of Birds of the World Vol 1. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, ISBN 84-87334-10-5
  • Jahnke, J. + Goya, E.; 1998: "The status of the Peruvian Diving Petrel population at its main breeding areas along the coast of Peru"; Colonial Waterbirds; 21 (1) 94-97
  • Jahnke, J. et al.: "The diet of the Peruvian Diving Petrel at La Vieja and San Gallan, Peru"; Journal of Field Ornithology: 70 (1) 71-97
  • Mundo Azul Species Factsheet: The Peruvian Diving Petrel
  • Valverde Romero, M.; 2006: "First record of the endangered Peruvian Diving Petrel Pelecanus garnotii breeding on Corcovado Island, Peru"; Marine Ornithology 34: 75–76

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