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

22. Antarctic Petrel — (Thalassoica antarctica) — Plate 10

22. Antarctic Petrel
(Thalassoica antarctica)
Plate 10

Field Characters: 104/43. A large petrel with strikingly contrasting plumage colours. Dark chocolate brown above, with broad, white trailing edge to upperwing, and white tail with brownish-black tip. Underparts white, except for the dark brown throat. The underwing has a dark leading margin (Fig. 12).

Bill dark bluish grey in adults and black in immature birds. Feet grey.

Differs from Cape Pigeon (29) by its larger size, uniformly dark back and broad white trailing edge to upperwing.

Usually seen in flocks, often alighting on ice floes for prolonged periods. A characteristic Antarctic species, rarely seen far from pack ice, but sometimes ranging further north in winter. Three records from New Zealand.

Circumpolar summer breeder about coasts of the Antarctic Continent.

Note: The chocolate brown plumage of this petrel is liable to fade rapidly with age, and shortly before being moulted (January to March) can appear light brown.