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the web of life in southern Africa

Chionis albus (Greater sheathbill, Snowy sheathbill) 

[= Chionis alba

Amerikaanse peddie [Afrikaans]; Grootkokerbek [Afrikaans]; Grootpeddie [Afrikaans]; Grootskedebek [Afrikaans]; Zuidpoolkip [Dutch]; Chionis blanc [French]; Amerikanischer Scheidenschnabel [German]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Charadriiformes > Family: Chionidae

Chionis albus (Greater sheathbill, Snowy sheathbill)   

Greater sheathbill, Cape Town Harbour, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]


Distribution and habitat

Breeds from April-October on the Antarctic Peninsula and the islands of South Georgia, South Orkney and South Shetland, heading north in the non-breeding season to south-eastern South America and the Falkland Islands. It is a vagrant to South Africa, as it is sighted almost annually at the port of Cape Town and elsewhere along the south-western coast, suggesting that it gets to the region by hitching a ride on a ship. It generally prefers rocky shorelines, although it is regularly recorded at harbours.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.