Chatham petrel

The Chatham petrel was discovered by Hawkins on South-east Island in the Chatham Group in 1892 and was described by Salvin the following year in Ibis 1893.

The Chatham Island petrel formerly bred in the forested areas of Pitt Island, Mangere, Rangatira and Chatham Island but due largely to the impacts of predation by rats and cats, they have been absent from all those sites except Rangatira for the last 100 years. However, they have been successfuly translocated back to the main island in recent years, after it was determined that another of the main reasons for decline was competition with broad billed prions, Pachyptila vittata, for breeding sites.

The Chatham Island petrel adults return to the Chathams Group in late November to early December to prepare burrows and to court. They nest in burrows under the forest canopy to which they are generally faithful to over time. Leaves are used as nesting material. Each pair lays a single white egg in December-January and the chicks fledge in May-June.

They may migrate to the North Pacific in Winter but this is yet to be determined conclusively.

— Greytown, 2008

Chatham Island petrel
Sub Species:

Other common names:  — 

Oestrelatus axillaris

Description:  — 

Endemic bird

30cm, 200g, head, back and upper-wings slate grey, shoulders and upper-wing coverts deeper grey with dark M pattern across the spread upper wings, forehead mottled grey white, underparts white, under-wing white except for dark outer tips to the primaries, and a narrow dark trailing edge, a black diagional band runs from the bend of the wing to the body at the base of the underwing which distinguishes it from the similar Black-winged Petrel.

Where to find:  — 

Breeds only in the Chatham Islands.

Illustration description: — 


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

Smit, J., Bristish Museum Catalogue of Birds, Volume 25, 1896.

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: — 


Saturday, 17 August 2019; ver2009v1


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