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Chionis albus

Snowy Sheathbill

  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Chionididae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Fang, Emerson D.

Chionis albus

Port Lockroy, Wiencke Island Antarctica; 15 January 1998 © Brad Schramm

A species of southern coasts, the Snowy Sheathbill is closely associated with colonies of marine birds and mammals. In these colonies, sheathbills scavenge food and eat the feces of other animals, especially penguins. Sheathbills are instantly recognizable by their all white plumage, pinkish facial skin and gray legs. Sheathbills are odd birds, which have been described as "a genus with the general appearance, gait, and flight of a pigeon, with the beak and voice of a crow; with the habits of a wader, yet dreading the water, and with pugnacity and familiarity with man of a rasorial [gallinaceous] bird" (Kidder and Coues 1876).

Recommended Citation

Fang, Emerson D.. 2010. Snowy Sheathbill (Chionis albus), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Austral Migrant
  • Primary Habitat:Coastal rocky beaches
  • Foraging Strata:Terrestrial
  • Foraging Behavior:Peck
  • Diet:Omnivorous
  • Sociality:Solitary/Pairs
  • Mating System:Monogamy
  • Nest Form:Cup
  • Clutch: 1 - 4
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern