The noble Sheathbill:
There are many sheathbills that call Palmer Station home. They have truly made themselves home here - in fact, they may pass right by you on the boardwalk, or keep Kelly and me company as we are on the deck outside measuring plants (we dub the outside deck “Lab 11”).
This year the pair that nests beneath the carpenter shop successfully raised a chick. Below is an image of a very young chick, and then the same chick a few months later (right photo).
These birds do not have webbed feet, so they cannot swim. They will pretty much eat anything: limpets along the shore, carcasses, seal and penguin feces, but they will also steal food from other birds. For example if a penguin is regurgitating food for a chick, a stealthy sheathbill may grab some of it too.
This bird has been described by Kidder and Coues (in 1876) as “a genus with the general appearance, gait, and flight of a pigeon, with the beak and voice of a crow; with the habits of a wader, yet dreading the water, and with pugnacity and familiarity with man of a rasorial [gallinaceous] bird”.
These are curious birds and fun to watch. They certainly have character.