Southern fulmar

Two Southern fulmars nestle together on a sandy beach. They have light grey upper feathers, pink bills which is black at the tip and pinkish-blue feet and legs.
Southern fulmars (Photo: Denise Allen)

Scientific name: Fulmarus glacialoides

Physical description

Southern fulmar adults are approximately 46-50 cm in length and have a wing span of 1.1 to 1.2 m. They have a pink bill which is black at the tip and pinkish-blue feet and legs. Males and females are similar in appearance and there is no seasonal variation in plumage.

Distribution & abundance

Southern fulmars breed in colonies on the Antarctic Peninsula and on the Antarctic continent. They also breed on the South Sandwich Islands, South Orkney Islands, South Shetland Islands, South Georgia, Bouvet and Pete 1.

During the winter months, southern fulmars move north away from the pack ice, commonly reaching as far north as 10°S, but only where they follow colder currents along the western coasts of southern continents.

Conservation status: least concern

Breeding

Southern fulmars nest on rocky ledges of steep coastal cliffs. Their nests are made of stone chips. Adults return to their colonies in October. Eggs are laid in November and December and chicks fledge in March and April.

Only one egg is laid by a pair in a breeding season. Skuas may take some abandoned eggs and chicks, but extreme weather conditions are much more significant causes of egg and chick mortality.

Diet and feeding

Southern fulmars are gregarious birds, often travelling, feeding and resting in large flocks. They are believed to feed nocturnally and they rarely follow ships. Southern fulmars feed at the surface on euphasiids (krill) and other crustaceans, and some squid and fish.

This page was last modified on 3 January 2013.