South Georgia: Sheathbills

A day before arriving to South Georgia, we picked up some bird passengers on the ship’s deck – sheathbills. These unique and quite strange looking Antarctic birds look like half-chicken and half-pigeon and are startling white except for the yellow and red bill. Sheathbills, scientifically known as Chionis alba the only members of the Chionidae family, making them truly one-of-a-kind. They are often called vultures of the Antarctica or simply “shit-eaters” – the birds are extremely opportunistic in what they eat – from carrion to invertebrates to fish and krill, to literally poop and seal afrerbirth, dead pups, penguin eggs, and so on. This adaptability allows them to thrive in the harsh and unforgiving environments they inhabit.