Polynesian Storm-petrel (Nesofregetta fuliginosa)

Polynesian Storm-petrel

[order] PROCELLARIIFORMES | [family] Hydrobatidae | [latin] Nesofregetta fuliginosa | [authority] Gmelin, 1789 | [UK] Polynesian Storm-petrel | [FR] Oceanite a gorge blanche | [DE] Weisskehl-Sturmschwalbe | [ES] Paino Gorgiblanco | [NL] Witkeelstormvogeltje


Monotypic species


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 Nesofregetta are Large storm petrels; plumage black above, white throat and belly ranging to to all dark below; tail stronlgy forked; tarsus uniquely anterio-posteriorly flattened, unscaled; basal phalanges of toes longer than remainder of toe and claw; webs narrow; claws blunt and flattened.

Physical charateristics

Large, polymorphic storm-petrel with broad rounded wings, lacking obvious bends along leading and trailing edges. Most common morph has brownish-black head, nape, mantle, upperwing and tail but white rump-band and greater-covert wing-bar. Moderately forked tail. White throat, brownish chest band, rest of underparts white. Extensive white on underwing-coverts, otherwise dark underwing. Intermediate morphs show dark flecking on white underparts. Dark morph is entirely sooty-brown. Dark morph similar to but larger than Tristram’s Storm Petrel O. tristrami.

wingspan min.: 44 cm wingspan max.: 48 cm
size min.: 24 cm size max.: 26 cm
incubation min.: 45 days incubation max.: 55 days
fledging min.: 55 days fledging max.: 65 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


Pacific Ocean : Central. Nesofregetta fuliginosa breeds in the Line and Phoenix Islands (Kiribati), Austral, Society (formerly Tahiti), Gambier and Marquesas Islands (French Pacific Oceanlynesia), New Caledonia (to France)


Burrows are often dug in sand (and can be extremely fragile), but it also nests under vegetation or in rock-crevices.


It usually nests in loosely formed colonies throughout the year, peaking at different times on different islands. On islands closer to the equator, breeding seems to occur throughout the year, but on islands further south, breeding may be seasonal. Females lay a single egg. Time to incubation is estimated at about 50 days and time to fledging at about 60 days. Polynesian storm petrel males and females both protect and feed their young to independence. However, little is known of the details of parental investment. Young are protected in nest burrows until they fledge.

Feeding habits

It feeds on small fish, cephalopods and crustaceansq

Video Polynesian Storm-petrel


copyright: Peter Fraser


This species has been uplisted to Endangered, a threat category which may have been warranted for some time, as the species has a very small and fragmented population which is continuing to decline. It is clear that invasive species are the primary reason for this decline, and although eradication at some locations has been conducted and further eradication programmes are planned for the future, this species remains highly threatened.
Birds do not appear to survive in the presence of rats or cats. Predation of eggs and small chicks by house mouse Mus musculus, human exploitation and increasing cultivation of islets, e.g. on Rapa, are additional threats
Polynesian Storm-petrel status Endangered


Presumably disperses mainly over adjacent waters and E to warm waters of South Equatorial Current

Distribution map

Polynesian Storm-petrel distribution range map

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