Pycroft's petrel

According to Oliver, Andreas Reischek found this petrel on the Chickens Islands in burrows with Tuatara in December 1880 but failed to distinguish it from Cook's petrel. It was next found by R.A. Falla breeding on both the Hen and Chicken Islands in January 1932 and by him was described under its present name. In November 1940, it was discovered by G.A. Buddle breeding on the Poor Knights.

Pterodroma pycrofti breeds under forest on eleven offshore islands along the east coast of New Zealand, in the Poor Knights Islands, the Hen and Chicken Islands, the Mercury Islands, and Ririwha. The total breeding population is estimated at 2,500-4,000 pairs, with a total population of 10,000-20,000 birds. Birds migrate to the north Pacific Ocean in the non breeding season.

Adult Pycroft petrels return to their colonies in mid-October to prepare burrows and to court. The birds dig burrows on flat to steep coastal slopes below 150 metres, often interspersed with other petrel colonies. Eggs hatch in late January. Its diet is not well known, although it is known to take squid.

Between 1987 and 1997, eradications of Rattus exulans were completed on Korapuki, Double, Stanley, Red Mercury, Lady Alice, Whatupuke and Coppermine Islands. As a result, breeding success has improved.

— Greytown, 2008

Sub Species:

Other common names:  — 

Description:  — 

Endemic bird

28cm, 160g, small, grey-and-white petrel, white forehead merging into grey crown, grey neck, back, uppertail-coverts, tail, darker patch around eye, darker grey wings showing "M" in flight, white underparts with indistinct grey half-collar, w3hite underwing with dark tip, dark line along leading edge, extending indistinctly from carpal joint towards body, separated from most other small gadfly petrels by whiter underwing.

Where to find:  — 

North eastern NZ.

Credit for the photograph: — 


Rosemary Tully

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.

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

Page date & version: — 


Saturday, 17 August 2019; ver2009v1


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