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Tuatara: Volume 21, Issues 1 and 2 (New Zealand Albatrosses and Petrels: an Identification Guide)

16. Grey-FACED Petrel — (Pterodroma macroptera) — Plate 9

16. Grey-FACED Petrel
(Pterodroma macroptera)
Plate 9

Two subspecies:

Grey-faced Petrel (P. macroptera gouldi)

Great-winged Petrel (P. macroptera macroptera)

The two subspecies are not distinguishable from each other at sea, except for the less obvious grey face in the nominate race.

Field Characters: 102/41. A long-winged, blackish-brown petrel with a grey face and throat. The grey face, which is conspicuous with adult birds, is much less so in immatures, which can closely resemble birds of the nominate race (from the South Indian and Atlantic Oceans).

Both the short, stout bill and feet are black.

Differs from Bird of Providence (21) and dark-phased Kermadec Petrel (27) by its entirely dark underwing.

Flight strong, very fast and weaving, often interspersed with wheeling in broad arcs. A shy and mostly solitary species not likely to be encountered close to land, except when returning to, or departing from, breeding colonies. Disperses widely into the Pacific and the Tasman Sea.

The Grey-faced Petrel is a winter breeder on islands off northern New Zealand and also on some headlands north of 40° southern latitude. The nominate race breeds on islands in the South Indian (off Western Australia) and South Atlantic Oceans (Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island), but has not been recorded in New Zealand waters.