black petrel

"The black petrel was first met with off the coast of New Zealand during Cook’s first voyage and a drawing was made by Bank’s artist, Sydney Parkinson. This suggested the name when, in 1862, Gray described the species from a specimen obtained by Miss Rachel Stone. Dieffenbach noticed it about 1840 and in 1868 it was discovered by Hutton breeding on Little Barrier Island."

The black petrel breeds only on Little Barrier and Great Barrier Islands. They formerly bred widely on the mountain ranges in the North Island and north–western South Island. They are summer breeders, cleaning out their burrows between October and December.

"Maori formerly took large numbers of the young black petrel for food. Each tribe had its own preserve which was visited every year during May. Care was taken not to disturb the burrows, the birds being taken out with a flexible stick split at the end. This was pushed into the burrow until the bird was felt and then twisted in the down and the bird was gently pulled out. It was killed by biting its head, and the stomach, with its oily contents, cut out with the aid of the bird’s bill and thrown away. The birds were then plucked and singed, and roasted until the fat was extracted. Afterwards they were placed in a vessel made of totara bark and covered with fat. Thus preserved they would keep for a long time."

Taiko, Black petrel, George Edwards, artist
Sub Species:

Other common names:  — 

Taiko, Majaqueus parkinsoni, Parkinson’s petrel.

Description:  — 

Endemic bird

46 cm, 700 g: sooty black, bill bluish white and black, legs and feet black.

Where to find:  — 

Breed on Little Barrier and Great Barrier Islands.

Credit for the photograph: — 

Illustration description: — 


Godman, Frederick du Cane, Monograph of the Petrels, 1907–1910.

Hand coloured copperplate etching from George Edwards' The Natural History of Uncommon Birds, Vol. 2 (1746), Plate 89.

Reference(s): — 


Heather, B., & Robertson, H., Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, 2000.

Oliver, W.R.B., New Zealand Birds, 1955.

Page date & version: — 


Monday, 23 December, 2019; ver2009v1


©  2005    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.