Southern Giant-petrel (species: Macronectes giganteus) in Sydney Marine Life (Gaia Guide)
Macronectes giganteus
Southern Giant-petrel

©Brocken Inaglory: Southern Giant-petrel (Macronectes giganteus) with chick

©Ealdgyth: Juvenile Southern Giant-petrel (Macronectes giganteus)

©Richard Giddens: Southern Giant-petrel (Macronectes giganteus)
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Procellariiformes
Family Procellariidae
Genus Macronectes
Species Macronectes giganteus
Status near threatened



Distinguishing features

They have a very large yellow bill, with a green tip and greyish-brown legs.

There are two different morphs, the dark which resembles the Northern Giant Petrel, and the more distinct light morph. On the dark morph the upper breast, head and neck are light with the remainder of its plumage being mottled brown. The leading edge of its wing was lighter as are the base of the inner primaries, on the underside. The light morph is rarer and very distinct with only slight black speckles on an otherwise all white look.

As juveniles, the dark morph starts off more sooty brown and pales as it ages. Both morphs of the Giant Petrel have legs that are stronger and thus can move around on land rather effectively.

When in flight this species has a somewhat hunchbacked appearance. (Wikipedia)


  • From 85 cm to 90 cm (Length of specimen) - applies to Adults


  • From 200 cm to 220 cm - applies to Adults



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution: Southern Giant-petrel (Macronectes giganteus)

Distribution and habitat preferences

The range of this bird is quite large as it ranges from Antarctica to the subtropics of Chile, Africa, and Australia, and has an occurrence range of 36,000,000 square km. It breeds on numerous islands throughout the southern oceans. The islands with larger populations include the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Orkney Islands, Staten Island, South Shetland, Heard Island, Macquarie Island, Prince Edward Islands, and Crozet Islands. The other locations with small populations are the Kerguelen Islands, Gough Island, Tristan da Cunha, Diego Ramirez, Isla Noir as well as four locations on the continent of Antarctica, including Terre Adélie, and small islands off the coast of Argentina near Chubut province. The colonies are visited year round. (Wikipedia)


This Petrel will feed on krill, squid, and offal in coastal and pelagic waters, and unlike most other Procellariiformes, this bird will eat carrion and even attack smaller seabirds. (Wikipedia)

Web resources