Black Petrel (Procellaria parkinsoni)

Black Petrel

[order] PROCELLARIIFORMES | [family] Procellariidae | [latin] Procellaria parkinsoni | [authority] Gray, 1862 | [UK] Black Petrel | [FR] Puffin de Parkinson | [DE] Schwarz-Sturmvogel | [ES] Pardela de Parkinson | [NL] Zwarte Stormvogel


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Procellaria parkinsoni PO c, sw


The Procellaria petrels represent a group of large and bulky seabirds that can be placed between the shearwaters of the genus Calonectris and the more fulmarine petrels. Until recently the largest of the Procellaria-species, the White-chinned and the only slightly smaller Spectacled Petrel, were considered to be conspecific. Now they are split into two separate species. Both have a large and strong bills, ivory colored with black sulci between the horny plates and ivory colored ungues, the latter sometimes slightly darker in the Spectacled Petrel. The Westland and Parkinson?s Petrel are also two similar species, of which the latter is a smaller version of the first. Both have ivory colored bills (with a bluish tinge in young birds), with blackish ungues. In the Parkinson’s the black is less extensive than in the Westland. There is no overlap in bill measurements. The Westland Petrel is of the same size as the White-chinned and its culmen is always longer than 47.8 mm. That of the Parkinson?s Petrel not longer than 45.1 mm The bill of the somewhat distinct Grey Petrel is about the size of the larger Procellarias, with the same pattern as the White-chinned and pectacled, but instead of ivory, more pearl-grey. The Grey Petrel’s somewhat lighter bill structure comes close to that of the Calonectris species. Because its somewhat different coloration, habits and structure this species formerly formed a genus of its own: Adamastor. It is now considered to belong to Procellaria.

Physical charateristics

Large, black petrel, becoming more brown as plumage ages. Undersides of primaries may appear silvery. Yellow-white bill on adults, blue-white on juveniles, has black tip. Black legs, feet. Similar spp. Smallest Procellaria species. Smaller, especially bill, than Westland Petrel P. westlandica and has less laboured flight. Large, all-dark Flesh-footed Shearwater P. carneipes have pink feet and distinctive flight. Voice Varied calls at colony after dark

wingspan min.: 110 cm wingspan max.: 120 cm
size min.: 46 cm size max.: 48 cm
incubation min.: 56 days incubation max.: 57 days
fledging min.: 96 days fledging max.: 122 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 1  


Pacific Ocean : Central, Southwest. Procellaria parkinsoni breeds on Great and Little Barrier Islands, New Zealand.


On the mainland, it reportedly bred up to 1,200 m, mostly in tall forest, but also in alpine tussock grasslands


It nests in virgin podocarp and mixed broadleaf forest above 500 m. It is a colonial burrow-nesting, annually-breeding species12 and can begin breeding at six years of age. Most eggs are laid in December, hatch in February and chicks fledge in May at about three months old. Chick provisioning can continue until June11. The youngest recorded bird returning to a colony was three years of age, and the age of first breeding has been recorded at 5 years of age. Clutch size is 1 egg, incubated for 57 days in 17 day stints. The chick fledges after about 3 to 4 months.

Feeding habits

Its diet is dominated by squid and supplemented by tunicates, crustaceans and cyclostomes

Video Black Petrel


copyright: Brooke Clibbon


This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it breeds on just two very small islands where introduced predators are a potential threat. The population is assumed to be stable, but if a decline is detected, the species should be uplisted to Endangered.
Procellaria parkinsoni breeds on Great and Little Barrier Islands, New Zealand, where the total population is c.1,300 and 100 breeding pairs respectively, equating to a total population of c.5,000 individuals. The estimate of 1,300 pairs on Great Barrier Island is lower than previously thought but probably reflects improved information rather than a decline, however it is not a complete survey and although it covers the majority of the island’s population further research is needed to assess the true population size. It once bred in the mountains of the North and South Islands, but had disappeared from the mainland by the 1960s. On Little Barrier, it was abundant in the late 1800s but the population was decimated, mainly by feral cats, until predators were eradicated in 1980. The Little Barrier population is now thought to be slowly increasing. On Great Barrier, the population may be stable.
Black Petrel status Vulnerable


It migrates to the eastern Pacific Ocean between the Galapagos Islands, southern Mexico and northern Peru

Distribution map

Black Petrel distribution range map

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