These Bloodthirsty Birds Are Underrated Predators

Giant petrel feeding on sea lion carcass - Photo by Brocken Inaglory
Giant petrel feeding on sea lion carcass. Photo by Brocken Inaglory.

When you think about predators, you might imagine sharks, tigers, and crocodiles. But some predators don’t have nearly as much street cred as others, even if they’re just as (if not more) vicious as the “famous” predators. Enter the giant petrel.

Giant petrels are among the world’s most underrated predators.

Why? Because, chance are, you probably didn’t even know they existed until just now.

Brocken Inaglory, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are actually two species of giant petrel: the northern giant petrel (Macronectes halliand) and the southern giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus). Yet, despite their names, both species reside in the southern hemisphere, and both species are known to visit Antarctica in the winter.

Southern giant petrels feeding on an elephant seal carcass

To survive and thrive in the demanding conditions of the southern latitudes, giant petrels have adapted to a lifestyle of aggressive predatory behavior and relentless scavenging. Unlike other petrels, which only feed at sea, giant petrels also seek out food on land.

While carrion, krill, squid, and fish make up a large part of their diet, they will also take down other birds. Live birds. Not even the massive albatross is safe from their onslaught. 

Watch the video below to see the incredible moment a giant petrel attacked an unlucky penguin in a colony in Antarctica.

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