The genus Pelecanoides is a peculiar group of small petrels form the Southern Hemisphere. In appearance and superficially similar tot the Little Auk or Dovekie from the North, but not related. The phylogeny of the Diving Petrels is not much investigated yet. Garnotti diverged from ll other tubenoses about 45.8 My ago, later followed by the divergence of urninatrix some 25.5 My ago. From this lineage georgicus and magellanicus diverged about 18.6 My ago. Diving Petrels are confined to the Southern Hemisphere. The Peruvian Diving Petrel is a bird of the South American west coast along the coast of Peru and Northern Chile. The distribution of the Magellanic Diving Petrel is limited around southern Patagonia and South-Gerogian is an endemic to the island it was named after. Only the six subspecies of the Common Diving Petrel can be found around the globe in subantarctic zone. As the name says, Diving Petrels are very capable divers and fourage on small euphausids and copepods. Although they look very similar to the smallest Alcids, Diving Petrels use the typical tubenose propulsion techniques: combinend use of wings and feet, where Alcids use only wings for propulsion. Diving Petrels can reach depths of 60 m (urinatrix) tot 80 m (garnotti). The flight of Diving Petrels is mainly by fast flapping, whirring wings, reminsicent to the flight of a bumblebee (Onley & Scofield 2007). Like other petrels all Diving Petrels are not very good walkers.
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Video Peruvian Diving-petrel
copyright: Josep del Hoyo
Guano extraction is probably responsible for the massive historical declines. La Vieja is still harvested every 5-7 years, when the species is also exploited for food, but extraction and hunting are probably most significant on San Gallan. It has been extirpated by introduced predators on Chaaral (foxes), and probably San Lorenzo and El Fronton (rats and cats). There are dogs on San Gallan and possibly rats on the Chilean breeding islands. Such predators probably prevent recolonisations. Heavy commercial fishing reduces food availability and causes mortality through incidental bycatch.