Snowy Sheathbill Chionis albus


Justification of Red List Category
Although this species may have a restricted range, it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable, however, there is some evidence of a population decline in the vicinity of the Argentine Islands since 1988 (E. Woehler in litt. 2003).

Distribution and population

This species breeds on the Antarctic Peninsula (Antarctica), and along the Scotia Arc on the South Shetland Islands, Elephant Island, the South Orkney Islands and South Georgia (Georgia del Sur). It is a non-breeding migrant to the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Tierra del Fuego (Chile and Argentina) and Patagonia (Argentina), with some birds wandering further north.


The species is typically found in seabird colonies, especially those of penguins, but occasionally those of cormorants and albatrosses, and also at seal rookeries and haul-outs. In the Falklands it occurs near human settlements. It is omnivorous, and notably feeds on marine prey stolen from penguins (del Hoyo et al. 1996).


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Fisher, S., Butchart, S., Harding, M. & Ashpole, J

Lynch, H.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Chionis albus. Downloaded from on 26/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/03/2023.