Proposal (444) to South American Classification Committee


Change the English name of Pachyptila desolata


The aim of this short proposal is to change the English name of Pachyptila desolata from “Dove Prion” to “Antarctic Prion”.


In the English-language ornithological literature the small-sized petrel Pachyptila desolata has been called either as “Antarctic Prion” or “Dove Prion”. However, use of the epithet “Antarctic” is much more appropriate, because it recognizes that P. desolata is the only species in the genus that breed on islands within the Antarctic zone of surface water (south of latitude 60ºS), and has clearly prevailed over “Dove” during the last 70 years in well-known reference books and field guides (e.g. Murphy 1936, Watson 1975, Harrison 1983, Sibley and Monroe 1990, Carboneras 1992, Enticott and Tipling 1997, Brooke 2004, Onley and Scofield 2007, and Christidis and Boles 2008). Moreover, the names “Dove Prion” or “Dove Petrel” have been also historically applied to the species today known as Fairy Prion, P. turtur, due to its supposed dove-like appearance.


Literature Cited

Brooke, M. L. 2004. Albatrosses and petrels across the world. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Carboneras, C. 1992. Family Procellariidae (Petrels and Shearwaters). Pages 216–257 in Handbook of the birds of the world, Vol. I (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal, Eds.). Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Christidis, L. and W. Boles. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia. 

Harrison, P. 1983. Seabirds: An identification guide. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Enticott, J. and D. Tipling 1997. Seabirds of the world: The complete reference. Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA.

Marchant, S. and P.J. Higgins (co-ords.) 1990. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Vol. 1. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Murphy, R. C. 1936. Oceanic birds of South America, Vol 1. American Museum of Natural History, New York.

Onley, D. and P. Scofield. 2007. Albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters of the world. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Sibley, C. G. and B. L. Monroe Jr. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of the birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven. 

Watson, G. E. 1975. Birds of the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic. American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C.



Caio J. Carlos, July 2010



Comments from Stotz: “YES.  Dove Prion has been used for turtur as well.  Antarctic Prion is appropriate and has an extensive history of use.”


Comments from Zimmer: “YES.  Caio makes a good argument for using Antarctic Prion.”


Comments from Zimmer: “YES.  “Antarctic Prion” is more appropriate, and avoids the potential for confusion with turtur.”


Comments from Jaramillo:  YES – If you were going to call one of these “Dove”, I would choose turtur. There is nothing particularly dove like about desolata. Antarctic Prion has been around for a long while and does actually serve as a better name for this more southerly breeding species. However, like belcheri it does sometimes move well to the north particularly on the Pacific Coast of South America, so the name is good for the breeding distribution alone. That is not a problem for me. The fact that the name has been used for a long time and is well established is the greater pro-Antarctic point for me.”