The Kermadec petrel was first collected by Macgillivray, naturalist to the Herald which visited Raoul or Sunday Island in 1854. It was not, however, decribed until 1863 when Schegel named it Procellaria neglecta. From the date of Cheeseman's visit to the Kermadecs in 1887, numerous specimens have been collected from Raoul Island and, on account of the variability of the species, several names have been bestowed on it.
This species has an extremely large range, from the southern Pacific, from Lord Howe Island and the Kermadec Islands in the west to San Ambrosio Island, Chile in the east. Outside the breeding season it ranges over much of the tropical and subtropical Pacific, occuring in the north Pacific mainly between November and January. The summer breeding form remains at sea from May to August and the winter breeding form from September to December.
Judging from the contents of the stomach of young birds, the food of the Kermadec petrel consists mainly of crustacea and cephalopods. Its call when flying is especially noticeable in the evening when thousands may be seen circling overhead. The cry may be described as a long drawn out "ow" in a descending pitch followed by "coo" repeated several times. The winter breeding form lacks the finishing "coo" sound.
These surface-breeding birds used to occur in large colonies on Raoul Island, but cats and rats almost wiped out the colonies. In the 2000s, with the predators gone, it is anticipated that the petrel colonies will again expand.
Flight usually low to water, with steep banking and gliding interspersed with unhurried, loose wingbeats. Does not follow ships.
Other common names: —
This medium to large-sized petrel is a polymorphic species with light, dark, and many intermediate colour phases occurring. All have conspicuous white underwing flashes.
Where to find: —
Kermadec Islands. Occasional vagrants reach NZ mainland.
Illustration description: —
Mathews, G.M., Birds of Australia, 1910-27.
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, 03 January 2022; ver2009v1