Our first encounter with this very strange bird. There are two species within the Sheathbill family (Chionidae), the other being the Black-faced Sheathbill (Chionis minor) found on Indian Ocean subantarctic islands, and is the only bird family whose breeding range falls entirely within the Antarctic and subantarctic. Being predators/scavengers they are omnivorous, and are usually found around penguin rookeries and seal colonies where their food comprises guano, krill and other marine crustaceans, eggs, chicks, fish, algae, invertebrates, carcasses; you name it. They are also included in the book 100 Birds To See before You Die, by David Chandler and Dominic Couzens.
We saw them at several penguin rookeries on South Georgia, other subantarctic Islands and on the Antarctic Peninsula itself. They are restricted to land (they are the only Antarctic species without webbed feet), have been known to fly to the Falkland Islands and South America, and one was reputed to have caught a ship from South Georgia to England during the Falklands War where it lived out the rest of its days! Bizarre just doesn't explain it!
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