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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Oceanites Oceanicus. — (Wilson’s Storm-Petrel.)

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Oceanites Oceanicus.
(Wilson’s Storm-Petrel.)

  • Procellaria pelagica, Wilson, Am. Orn. vii. p. 90, pl. 69 (1813, nec. L.).

  • Procellaria oceanica, Kuhl, Beitr. Zool. p. 136, tab. x. fig. 1 (1820).

  • Procellaria wilsoni, Bonap. Journ. Acad. Phil. iii. pt. 2, p. 231 (1824).

  • Thalassidroma wilsoni, Aud. Birds Amer. 8vo, vol. viii. p. 106, pl. 460 (1839).

  • Thalassidroma oceanica, Schinz, Europ. Faun. p. 397, pl. 1 (1840).

  • Oceanites wilsoni, Keys. & Blas. Wirb. Eur. p. 238 (1840).

  • Oceanites oceanica, Bonap. C. R. xlii. p. 769 (1856).

  • Oceanites oceanicus, Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. 1878, p. 735.

Ad. fuliginoso-brunneus, pileo undique aliquantò cinerascente, regione auriculari et collo postico magis nigricantibus: tectricibus alarum fumoso-nigricantibus, majoribus versus apicem pallidè brunneis: remigibus rectricibusque nigris, intùs brunnescentibus: supracaudalibus et crissi lateribus conspicuè albis: plumis uropygialibus imis nigris albo terminatis: subcaudalibus saturatè brunneis ad basin albis: rostro nigro: pedibus nigris, membranis interdigitalibus sordidè flavis: iride nigrâ.

Adult. General plumage sooty black, darker on the head and hind neck; a broad band of white crosses the rump and upper tail-coverts, covers the flanks and spreads out on each side of the under tail-coverts; small upper wing-coverts margined with pale brown; quills and tail-feathers black, the former dusky on their inner webs. Irides, bill, and legs black; interdigital webs dull yellow. Total length 7 inches; wing, from flexure, 6·2; tail 3; bill, along the ridge ·6, along the edge of lower mandible ·7; bare tibia ·5; tarsus 1·3; middle toe and claw 1·15.

Obs. The sexes are exactly alike in plumage.

This species is almost cosmopolitan on the high seas. It is very numerous in the ocean that surrounds the Australian coast, and is sometimes met with off New Zealand, although it is by no means so plentiful as the other species of Storm-Petrel*. Mr. Salvin’s collection contains several specimens from the Azores.

The gifted Charles Waterton thus refers to this species at page 154 of his charming ‘Wanderings’ :—“When it blows a hard gale of wind the Stormy Petrel makes its appearance. While the sea runs mountains high, and every wave threatens destruction to the labouring vessel, this little harbinger of storms is seen enjoying itself, on rapid pinion, up and down the roaring billows. When the storm is over it appears no more. It must have been hatched in Æolus’s cave, amongst a clutch of squalls and tempests; for whenever they get out upon the ocean it always contrives to be of the party.”

* Another well-known species (Fregetta grallaria) is certain to occur in our seas; but as no authentic New-Zealand specimen has been yet recorded, I will content myself with giving here a description of the bird, whereby it may hereafter be identified by local collectors:—Adult. Head, neck, and entire upper surface, except the uropygium, sooty black; the feathers of the back and the larger wing-coverts minutely margined with white; breast, abdomen, sides of the body, and middle portion of wings underneath, flanks, rump, and upper tail-coverts pure white; lateral under tail-coverts tipped with white. Irides, bill, and feet black. Total length 7·25 inches; wing, from flexure, 6·5; tail 3; bill, along the ridge ·75, along the edge of lower mandible ·8; bare tibia ·6; tarsus 1·3; middle toe and claw ·8. The sexes are alike in plumage, except that the female appears to have broader white margins on the plumage of the upper surface.