black-winged petrel

The black-winged petrel was discovered by Hawkins on South-east Island in the Chatham group in 1892 and was described by Salvin in Ibis the following year.

The black-winged petrel is a small gadfly petrel that breeds colonially on subtropical and tropical islands and islets in the south-west Pacific Ocean, at Lord Howe Island, Philip Island off Norfolk Island, islets off New Caledonia, Tonga, the Cook Islands. In the New Zealand region, they breed at the Kermadecs, Three Kings, and the Chatham Islands. In contrast to many other Procellariiformes, this species is expanding its breeding range.

Despite the black-winged petrel's relatively broad geographic range, virtually nothing is known about its breeding biology because it nests only on remote oceanic islands. Breeding grounds are usually vegetated coastal slopes or rugged terrain inland. It nests on higher ground in burrows or rock crevices, with the entrance hidden by scrub, tussocks or grassy mats. These burrows may be a meter long in sandy soil but are usually shorter in stony, volcanic soil.

Black-winged Petrels collect food by surface-seizing and dipping, often in association with a number of other birds. Their diet is mainly comprised of squid and prawns.

During the summer breeding season, they range though the sub-tropical southwestern Pacific and the Tasman Sea as far south as Foveaux Strait. In May, tyey migrate to the subtropical north Pacific from Japan to Mexico. They return to New Zealand waters in late October to breed.

— Greytown, 2009

black-winged petrel
Sub Species:

Other common names:  — 

Æstrelata nigripennis, Pterodroma hypoleuca nigripennis

Description:  — 

Native bird

30cm, 175g., black upperwings, patterned underwings, upperbody ashy grey, black eye patch and tail, upperwing brownish black with black open ‘M’ marking across the back, underbody white, underwing white, with a conspicuous black leading margin extending diagonally across to a point midway between the carpal joint and white axillaries.

Where to find:  — 

Breed at the Kermadecs, Three Kings, and the Chatham Islands.

Illustration description: — 


Reference(s): — 


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

Readers Digest Complete Book of NZ Birds, 1985

Page date & version: — 


Sunday, 17 April 2022; ver2009v1


©  2009    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.