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Broad-billed Prion - BirdForum Opus

Identified by steep forehead and heavy bill.
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
South Atlantic Ocean - High Seas, (-41.1°,-16.3°) 9 March 2018.
Pachyptila vittata


25-30cm (10"-12")
Heaviest-billed of all the prions, with steep forehead giving a bull-headed appearance.

  • Grey upperparts
  • Dark cap
  • Black "W" on wings
  • White underparts
  • Black tail tip
  • Broad flat bill with comb-like fringes.
Alternate view of head
Photo © by Michael Hooper
Tasman Sea, 3 December 2022.


Subantarctic and subtropical seas from SE Atlantic to New Zealand, breeding in southern South Island, New Zealand including islets off Stewart Island, Snares Island and Chatham Island; Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island.

Ranges to Southern Africa (Namibia and South Africa) and Australia.


This is a monotypic species[1].

A similar prion with narrower bill and more sloping head profile has been found breeding on Gough Island. It has been provisionally identified as a form of Salvin's Prion or sometimes split as a separate species MacGillivray's Prion. However it has not yet been formally described.[3].


Open sea; islands for breeding.



The diet includes planktonic crustaceans; it uses its bill to filter food from the water.


They nest in burrows on islands. The single egg is incubated for 50 days and the young fledges 50 days later.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Carboneras, C., Jutglar, F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Broad-billed Prion (Pachyptila vittata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/52551 on 20 June 2018).
  3. Ryan, Peter & Bourgeois, Karen & Dromzée, Sylvain & Dilley, Ben. (2014). The occurrence of two bill morphs of prions Pachyptila vittata on Gough Island. Polar Biology. 37. 727-735. 10.1007/s00300-014-1473-2.
  4. BirdLife International
  5. Wikipedia

Recommended Citation

External Links

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