Snowy sheathbill

The snowy sheathbill (Chionis albus), also known as the greater sheathbill, pale-faced sheathbill, and paddy, is one of two species of sheathbill. It is usually found on the ground. It is the only land bird native to the Antarctic continent.[3]

Snowy sheathbill
Chionis blanc - Pale-faced Sheathbill.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Chionidae
Genus: Chionis
C. albus
Binomial name
Chionis albus
Gmelin, 1789
  • Chionis alba Gmelin, 1789[2] Gmelin, 1789


A snowy sheathbill is about 380–410 mm (15–16 in) long, with a wingspan of 760–800 mm (30–31 in). It is pure white except for its pink, warty face; its Latin name translates to "snow white".[4]


The snowy sheathbill lives in Antarctica, the Scotia Arc, the South Orkneys, and South Georgia. Snowy sheathbills living very far south migrate north in winter.[3]


The snowy sheathbill does not have webbed feet. It finds its food on the land. It is an omnivore, a scavenger, and a kleptoparasite and will eat nearly anything. It steals regurgitated krill and fish from penguins when feeding their chicks and will eat their eggs and chicks if given the opportunity. Sheathbills also eat carrion, animal feces, and, where available, human waste. It has been known to eat tapeworms that have been living in a chinstrap penguin's intestine.[4]



  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Chionis albus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. ^ The Internet Bird Collection. "Pale-faced Sheathbill (Chionis alba)".
  3. ^ a b Briggs, Mike; Briggs, Peggy (2004). The Encyclopedia of World Wildlife. Parragon Publishing. ISBN 1-4054-3679-4.
  4. ^ a b Lynch, Wayne (September 26, 2001). The Scoop on Poop. Fifth House Books. ISBN 1-894004-59-0.