Soft-plumaged petrel

Soft-plumaged petrels were first discovered in the New Zealand region in 1969. In 1978 burrows were located and by 1994 there were several thousand pairs breeding.

In the South Atlantic, the Soft-plumaged Petrel is common from 30° to 60°S from the east coast of South America to South Africa. In February, the species has been recorded from 35° to 52°S in the transect from Reunion via Iles Crozet to near Antarctica. Sometimes the species has been recorded south of the Antarctic Convergence. The birds are a regular and common winter visitor to South Africa, Namibia, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

There are scientific disagreements on the taxonomy of this species. Currently, it is considered that the Australian population, along with the Ile Amsterdam breeders, comprise the subspecies P. m. deceptornis. Nominate P. m. mollis breeds on Gough Island and Antipodes Island, while P. m. dubia breeds on Marion Island, Iles Crozet and Iles Kerguelen (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

At the Antipodes Islands laying usually takes place between November-December. Fledging is generally between April-May.

— Greytown, 2008

Sub Species:

Other common names:  — 

Oestrelata mollis, Soft-plumaged Fulmar, Littlest Whitebreast, Whistler

Description:  — 

Native bird

34cm, 300g, grey and white, conspicuous dark underwings, upperparts slate grey, wings brownish black, forehead mottled grey and white, crown dark, eye area black, grey collar extends down over the neck, often joining in the mid-line below, underparts white, contrasting dark grey underwings, bill black, feet flesh-coloured with black extremities. Differs from other medium and small gadfly petrels in having distinctive all dark underwings.

Where to find:  — 

Seen off southern and eastern coasts of NZ.

Illustration description: — 


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

Reference(s): — 


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

Readers Digest Complete Book of NZ Birds, 1985.

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

Page date & version: — 


Saturday, 31 May 2014; ver2009v1


©  2008    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.