Providence Petrel (Pterodroma solandri)

Providence Petrel

[order] PROCELLARIIFORMES | [family] Procellariidae | [latin] Pterodroma solandri | [authority] Gould, 1844 | [UK] Providence Petrel | [FR] Petrel de Solander | [DE] Solander-Sturmvogel | [ES] Petrel de Solander | [NL] Solanders Stormvogel


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Pterodroma solandri PO w, n


Genus Pterodroma, Pseudobulweria and Aphrodroma are also knwon as the Gadfly Petrels. They vary in size from rather small birds such as the Cookilaria-species, measuring about 26 cm, to the much larger and robust representatives of this group like the White-headed Petrel with an overall length of about 43 cm. Their plumages also vary a great deal from species to species; from completely black to light grey mantles and pure white bellies, and with different color phases within species. One feature shared by all of them is the black bill of which the shape also shows much variation. Some species are extremely rare and restricted to a very limited area, other are abundant and wander widely or have unknown pelagic ranges.
The group of the Gadfly Petrels counts over 35 species, mainly from the Southern Hemisphere. There are three genera: Pterodroma with about 30 species, Pseudobulweria counting four and Aphrodroma with only one. Many authors have tried to classify the large number of species of this group and to determine their relationships. This has resulted in a division in several subgenera and the grouping of several species which are considered to have a more or less close relationship. The taxonomic discussion has not come to an end yet: new species have been added or split recently and probably will be in the near future.

Physical charateristics

Medium-sized, all-dark gadfly petrel. Uniform, fairly dark grey-brown with extensive whitish scaling around face and on chin, and white skua-like base to primaries on underwing. Sexually dimorphic. Males larger with significantly longer culmen. Relatively long, wedge-shaped tail useful character when visible. Murphy’s Petrel P. ultima has more slender bill, whiter throat, and stronger traces of “M” pattern on upperwing. Even darkest Kermadec Petrel P. neglecta has white primary shafts on upperwing. Grey-faced Petrel P. macroptera gouldi has similar face pattern, but is darker.

wingspan min.: 95 cm wingspan max.: 105 cm
size min.: 38 cm size max.: 42 cm
incubation min.: 53 days incubation max.: 57 days
fledging min.: 100 days fledging max.: 110 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 1  


Pacific Ocean : West, North. Pterodroma solandri breeds in the southern section of Lord Howe Island (Australia), and on Phillip Island, Norfolk Island (to Australia)


It nests in burrows or under rock cavities and occasionally between tree buttresses from sea level to 900 m


The Providence Petrel is a burrow-nesting seabird that breeds during the austral winter, with adults arriving on Lord Howe Island in late February and March. Females lay a single egg in mid- to late May, which is not replaced if lost. The incubation period is approximately 55 days, and the parents share incubation duties. Hatching typically starts in mid-July, and most chicks have fledged by November. Adults generally guard the chick for only 1-4 days after hatching.

Feeding habits

It predominantly takes squid and fish with crustaceans less important. The most important prey item is bioluminescent fish from the genus Electrona; maximum diving depths have been recorded at 5 m. It also scavenges for food taking fish offal and has been recorded scavenging on a Shining Bronze-cuckoo Chrysoccyx basilis. It only occasionally follows fishing boats but some fishing material has been reported in their diet.

Video Providence Petrel


copyright: Tom Tarrant


This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it has a very small range, being confined to one very small island and one tiny islet, and it is therefore susceptible to stochastic events and human impacts.
On Norfolk Island, its demise was due to hunting and introduced species. The presence of cats and rat species on Norfolk Island continues to limit re-establishment. On Lord Howe Island, it has withstood the introductions of pigs, cats, goats, black rat Rattus rattus and Masked Owl Tyto novaehollandiae castaneothorax. The main causes of death on Lord Howe Island are predation by the threatened Lord Howe Rail Gallirallus sylvestris and flooding of burrows. Rat predation of eggs and chicks was not considered a problem during the 2001 and 2002 breeding seasons. It also risks death from drowning in longline fishing gear, but this cause of mortality is unlikely to be significant. Diet samples have contained traces of plastic; however, no obvious adverse affects have been detected.
Providence Petrel status Vulnerable


Transequatorial migrant, probably mainly moving into NW Pacific, with some birds occurring off Japan even during breeding season. When breeding occurs over W Tasman Sea.

Distribution map

Providence Petrel distribution range map

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