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

17. Wedge-Tailed Shearwater — (Puffinus pacificus) — Plate 8

page 33

17. Wedge-Tailed Shearwater
(Puffinus pacificus)
Plate 8

Three subspecies:

P. pacificus pacificus

P. pacificus chlororhynchus

P. pacificus cuneatus

The nominate race and P. pacificus chlororhynchus are indistinguishable from each other at sea. P. pacificus cuneatus, however, has mostly white underparts and is a very rare vagrant to New Zealand; for this subspecies, see (60).

Field Characters: 96/43. A large, dark brown, slender-bodied shearwater with long wedge-shaped tail (conspicuous when spread), dark bill and pale feet.

Bill slender, slate grey; feet pale flesh-coloured.

Differs from Flesh-footed Shearwater (15) by having a dark bill and a longer tail; from Sooty Shearwater (20) by having a dark underwing and flesh-coloured feet.

Flight during calm weather and moderate winds consists of occasional shallow wingbeats and long graceful glides low to the surface of the sea. In strong winds, however, the flight speed increases with much banking and wheeling. Does not follow ships.

Widely distributed in tropical and subtropical Indian and Pacific Oceans. Locally a summer breeder at the Kermadec and Norfolk Islands, New Caledonia, and islands off the Queensland and New South Wales coasts.