Wild Fact #337 – “And In This Corner….” – Southern Giant Petrel

Giant Southern Petrel

Photo by Brocken Inaglory (Wikimedia)

Today we are going to discover a bird that you probably never knew existed, however, after reading this fact, you will be telling all of your friends about their interesting defence mechanism. Unfortunately, to view the Southern Giant Petrel we will have to head south. How far south? Well, another name for this bird is the Antarctic Giant Petrel, so that should give you a hint. This particular bird has a few more names including Giant Fulmar, Stinker, Stinkpot and my personal favourite, the “Bone-Shaker”. Doesn’t that last name sound like this bird should be hitting Hulk Hogan in the back of the head with a chair in an epic WWE cage match?

Secret Wrestling Tactic

If I were a betting man, I would put my money on the Southern Giant Petrel to win that bout against The Hulkster. But this is only because I have a little bit of insider information. You see, when the Bone-Shaker feels threatened they will spit globs of regurgitated food and oil at their attacker. This definitely gives this large bird the edge in any wrestling match. Oh, and this little defence mechanism is the reason these birds are often referred to as “Stinker” or “Stinkpot”. Nothing better then having smelly regurgitated food all over you, right?

Giant Southern Petrel

Photo by Richard Giddins (Wikimedia)

The Heavyweight

They are called Giant Petrels for a reason as they can grow up to 1 m (3.2′) in length with a wingspan over 2 m (6.5′). As you can imagine, these giant birds also weigh quite a bit with the males coming in at 5 kg (11 lbs) while their female counterparts can weigh up to an amazing 8 kg (18 lbs). I am starting to think that the famous Hulk Hogan should probably back down from this make-belief fight.

A Giant Seagull?

When you think of the Southern Giant Petrel, you may get the image of a very large Seagull. Although the two are not related, the Petrel is known for being a very big scavenger…sure the Petrel feeds off of Penguins and Seal carcasses while the Gull typically steals french fries from you outside of the “Chip Truck”, but nonetheless, they are both scavengers. Occasionally, the Bone-Shaker will go in and snatch up a fish or squid from the ocean surface but this is not their primary source of nutrition. Why would you want fresh fish when you can feast on a dead, rotting carcass? You have to love the life of a Sea-Bird in Antarctica!


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