Black-faced Sheathbill

The Black-faced Sheathbill (Chionis minor) also known as the Lesser Sheathbill or Paddy, is a species of bird that is restricted to the sub-Antarctic islands in the southern Indian Ocean. This includes the
South African territory of the Prince Edward Islands, the French territories of the Crozet Islands and Kerguelen Islands, and the Australian territory of Heard Island. The birds on Heard Island comprise an endemic subspecies, Chionis minor nasicornis.

These are short-necked, pigeon-like birds with white plumage and black bills. Adults are 15 to 16 inches long with a wingspan of 29 to 31 inches. The adult male weighs 18.5 to 21.5 ounces. The females weigh 16.25 to 18.5 ounces. The call is loud and high-pitched. These birds are opportunistic foragers, predators and scavengers. They feed on almost anything including strandline debris,
algae and other vegetation, as well as on invertebrates, fish, seabird eggs and chicks, seal milk, blood, placentas, carrion, feces, mice and human refuse.

The Black-faced Sheathbill nests in crevices, caves and under boulders on piles of debris or vegetation formed by seabird and seal colonies. The female lays 2 to 3 brown-speckled creamy-white eggs. Incubation lasts for about 30 days. The young are semi-precocial (need only little care by an adult) and fledge 50 days after hatching. Sexual maturity is reached in 3 to 5 years.

Though at risk from scavenging toxic wastes, introduced predators, and scattered population range, this species has no recorded significant decline in population and conservation status is listed as Least Concern.

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