Cape Pigeon

Genus Daption

One species with two subspecies.

  • Cape Pigeon or Pintado Petrel Daption capense
    • D. c. capense
    • D. c. australe

A medium sized petrel, though smaller than the true Fulmars. Subspecies australe is a little smaller and darker on the back.

Evolution and taxonomy

According to Penhallurick & Wink (2004) Daption was the first divergence from the primitive Fulmar stock, some 26.2 My ago. Analysis by other authors (Nunn & Stanley 1998) suggest a later divergence from the branch that produced Thalassoica and Pagodroma in an earlier stage. The two subspecies diverged rather recently and differ only slightly in size and colour pattern.


D. c. capense, circumpolar through the Southern Ocean and breeds coastal Antarctica, S. Georgia, S. Sandwich, S. Orkney, Bouvet, S. Shetland, Crozet, Heard, Kerguelen Is. D. c. australe is more from the New Zealand area: Snares Is., Campbell I., Chatham Is, Bounty I.


Cape Pigeons are best known from their habit of following ships and feeding on offal from fishery and other ship's waste. They fly in the typical fulmarine way: sailing and soaring on stiff wings, often in flocks. Their feeding strategy mainly consists of surface seizing, shallow plunging and filtering. Cape Pigeons are capable of diving, but are not very much adapted to it. They breed on rocky ground or on rocky cliffs prefering the shelter of overhanging rocks. Like most other fulmars they are poor walkers.


The skull of Daption is typical fulmarine with a rounded cranium and fused lachrymals. The all black bill is rather wide in comparison with the other fulmarine petrels and is adapted to filtering with serrations of the ramphoteca.

Cape Pigeon or Pintado Petrel Daption capense capense, Ardery Island 1)
Culmen: 30.3 mm, 83.6 mm; unsexed adult

  • Skull
  • Flight apparatus
  • Pelvis and legs
  • Vertebrae and ribs
1) Courtesy of Jeroen Creuwels and Jan Andries van Franeker