Pycrofts Petrel (Pterodroma pycrofti)

Pycrofts Petrel

[order] PROCELLARIIFORMES | [family] Procellariidae | [latin] Pterodroma pycrofti | [authority] Falla, 1933 | [UK] Pycrofts Petrel | [FR] Petrel de Pycroft | [DE] Pycroft-Sturmvogel | [ES] Petrel de Pycroft | [NL] Pycrofts Stormvogel


Monotypic species


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

Small, grey-and-white petrel. White forehead merging into grey crown. Grey neck, back, uppertail-coverts, tail. Darker patch around eye. Darker grey wings showing “M” in flight. White underparts with indistinct grey half-collar. White underwing with dark tip, dark line along leading edge, extending indistinctly from carpal joint towards body. Separated from most other small gadfly petrels by whiter underwing. Stejneger’s Petrel P. longirostris has more extensive, dark eye-patch. Cook’s Petrel P. cookii generally appears lighter with lighter crown and eye patch. Pycroft’s Petrel P. pycrofti may not be separable from de Fillipi’s Petrel P. defilippiana, but ranges may not overlap.

wingspan min.: 50 cm wingspan max.: 56 cm
size min.: 26 cm size max.: 30 cm
incubation min.: 42 days incubation max.: 48 days
fledging min.: 77 days fledging max.: 84 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 1  


Pacific Ocean : Southwest. Pterodroma pycrofti breeds under forest on 11 offshore islands along the east coast of New Zealand, in the Pacific Oceanor Knights Islands, the Hen and Chicken Islands, the Mercury Islands, and Ririwha (= Stephenson).


It digs burrows on flat to steep coastal slopes below 150 m, often interspersed with other petrel colonies


The birds dig burrows on flat to steep coastal slopes below 150 m, often interspersed with other petrel colonies. Eggs hatch in late January. Clutch size 1 egg which is incubated 45 days with feeding stints of 1-4 days. The young fledge after about 77-84 days.

Feeding habits

Its diet is not well known, although it is known to take squid


This species is classified as Vulnerable because it has a very small range when breeding, being restricted to four tiny island groups, with the majority of the population on one island. It has a small population, but numbers are apparently increasing at one site and likely to be stable elsewhere.
Pacific rat Rattus exulans has a significant impact on breeding success, taking eggs and chicks. The threatened endemic reptile tuatara Sphenodon punctatus is also a natural predator of eggs and chicks, but appears to have no major effect on populations. Little Shearwaters Puffinus assimilis compete for nesting sites, and generally dominate when their populations are large. Although they presently have little effect on breeding success3, competition may become problematic in the future as populations increase in response to a release from predator pressure4,5. The species is potentially threatened by climate change because it has a geographically bounded distribution: it is restricted to an island or islands with a maximum altitude of 150m.
Pycrofts Petrel status Vulnerable


Very little known. Absent from colonies Apr-Oct; said to migrate to N Pacific, but only 1 record to date.

Distribution map

Pycrofts Petrel distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *