Snow petrels are incredibly elegant birds, but there is more to them than you know. Surviving Antarctica is not easy, so how do they do it?

Snow petrels

This week’s station news is brought to you by Benny W.

This week at Casey we learn about our little fluffy white feathered friend the snow petrel (Pagodroma nivea nivea)!

With the strong return of over twelve hours of sunlight on station, all expeditioners are now eagerly awaiting the return of wildlife, of which our little mate ‘Snowy’ will be one of the first to return.

Snow petrels are hardy little buggers, living their whole life in the frozen south. These fantastic little birds make little rock nests in the areas around Casey from September to October, usually laying one perfectly egg shaped white egg in the month of December. The new chick (AKA white ball of fluff) starts fledging around March where he then shoots off to spend the harsh Antarctic winter on the outer sea ice with his good buddy Mr Adélie penguin. For the next five months, the snow petrels will feed mostly on krill, molluscs and cephalopods, loading up on energy to get them through the summer breeding!

You would think that such a cute little bird would not last two seconds on a floating piece of ice before some winter starved skua or leopard seal chomped it in half, but OH NO! This little bird has a bad case of S.B.S. (small bird syndrome) and when provoked it will spray stomach oil from its tiny beak into the face of any would be predators! Nasty stuff!

Snowy’s live for 15 to 20 years and mate for life. They've been sighted at the South Pole and are one of Antarctica’s true little battlers!