New Zealand Storm-petrel (Oceanites maorianus)

New Zealand Storm-petrel

[order] PROCELLARIIFORMES | [family] Hydrobatidae | [latin] Oceanites maorianus | [authority] Mathews, 1932 | [UK] New Zealand Storm-petrel | [FR] Xenodacnis mesange | [DE] Neuseelandische Sturmschwalbe | [ES] Not found | [NL] Nieuw-Zeelands Stormvogeltje


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Oceanites maorianus PO sw


Storm-petrels are rather small and often dark colored tubenoses with a world wide distribution. All have fine black bills with very pronounced tubes. Storm Petrels are separated in two groups: the long legged, Southern Hemisphere birds subfamily Oceanitinae and the shorter legged species of more northern seas the subfamily Hydrobatinae. The first groups shows more morphological differences than the second. The genera are characterised on colour patterns, the condition of the nasal tubes, tail shape, structure of claws and proportions of the leg bones. The genus Oceanites have their plumage black with white upper- and under-tail coverts and sometimes white on the abdomen; bil short, nasal tubes long (about half length of culme); tarsus booted (scales fused to a continuous sheath) or with obscure scutes; claws little flattened, webs yellow.

Physical charateristics

A medium-sized storm petrel with noticeably large head, long legs and long feet, the latter projecting well beyond the square tail. Head, neck and upperparts blackish-brown except for pale carpal bar, white rump and uppertail coverts. Breast blackish-brown grading into blackish streaks on white belly, flanks and undertail coverts, but the amount of streaking highly variable. On the dark underwing, there is a pale central patch. Bill, eye, legs and feet black. Toes extend well beyond the tail in flight, which is swift-like with alternating flapping and glides. Similar spp. Black-bellied Storm Petrel Fregatta tropica, much larger, lacks the streaked flanks, generally has a black belly stripe and has broader, more rounded wings. White-bellied Storm Petrel Fregetta grallaria lacks any streaking on the normally white upper breast and belly (some populations have dark bellied forms) and also has broader, more rounded wings, and toes do not project beyond tail. Wilson’s Storm Petrel Oceanites oceanicus is all dark ventrally, but does have a similar, but not the same, flight progression.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 17 cm size max.: 18 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


Pacific Ocean : Southwest. Oceanites maorianus was known only from putative fossil material, and from three specimens collected in the 19th century, two from the East Coast of the North Island New Zealand, and one of unknown provenance, but suggested to be Banks Peninsula, South Island. However, one individual was observed and photographed off the Mercury Islands, North Island in January 2003, and subsequently a flock of 10-20 were observed and photographed north of Little Barrier Island, North Island in November 2003.


The species seems to occupy warmer waters which move into the Hauraki Gulf during summer.


The breeding season is possibly late November (egg-laying) through to May (fledging)

Feeding habits

It probably feeds on small crustaceans and plankton associated with this water, and it is readily attracted to chum slicks


Previously assumed to have been Extinct following the lack of records since three specimens were collected in the 1800s, this species was spectacularly rediscovered in 2003, with multiple annual records subsequently. Although there is very little information on which to base an assessment, the species has been precautionarily classified as Critically Endangered on the basis of an extremely small population which could be susceptible to the impacts of introduced predators. Further observations and information may well lead to a revision of the criteria triggered, and possibly the category to which it is assigned.
New Zealand Storm-petrel status Critically Endangered


Thought to be migratory owing to its absence from Hauraki Gulf from June to September each year

Distribution map

New Zealand Storm-petrel distribution range map

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