mottled petrel

The mottled petrel was discovered in the South Pacific Ocean during Cook's second voyage. A painting was made by George Forster and a description drawn by his father J.R. Forster. It has been variously depicted since then by Buller, Godman and Mathews.

According to Oliver, the mottled petrel formerly bred "in the central mountains ranges of the North Island, Kaimanawa, Ruahine, and Ruapehu, and throughout the whole of the South Island including Banks Peninsula" but the introduction of rats, first by Maori and then by Europeans, saw their demise on the mainland. Now the mottled petrel is common only around Stewart Island, its outlying islands and the Snares.

The mottled petrel is a summer breeder, returning in late October to clean out the nests and mate, laying in December. At Snares they mate for life and return to the same nest every year. Before they mate, the birds may caress and preen each other with their bills. Birds arrive at the colony after sunset. At night they perform aerial displays in groups of two or three, dashing and twisting at high speed.

They feed mainly on squid and small fish. All observers have reported the usual call of the mottled petrel as a high pitched te-te-te-te rapidly and continuously repeated when the bird is in flight. It has another quite different call, a deep resonant bugle note.

Formerly, the Korure was taken by Maori in large numbers in inland breeding places in the North Island.

The mottled petrel spends the southern winter along the sub-arctic front in the north Pacific Ocean. Some birds, presumably immatures, remain in the north Pacific during the northern winter.

mottled petrel
Sub Species:

Other common names:  — 

Scaled petrel, Peale's petrel, rainbird, titi

Description:  — 

Endemic bird

34 cm., 325g., sexes alike, face white, heavily mottled grey, dark eye patch, grey upperparts, dark belly, light undertail and dark diagonal slash across white underwing, legs and feet pink with black toes. The wing length is greater than that of most other petrels.

Where to find:  — 

Breeds Fiordland, Codfish Island, and other islands off Stewart Island and Snares Island. Ranges around New Zealand mainland and to the Chathams during breeding season.

Illustration description: — 


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

Mathews, G.M., Birds of Australia, 1910-27.

Reference(s): — 


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

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

Readers Digest Complete Book of NZ Birds, 1985.

Page date & version: — 


Monday, 03 January 2022; ver2009v1


©  1998    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.