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

27. Kermadec Petrel — (Pterodroma neglecta) — Plates 9 and 12

27. Kermadec Petrel
(Pterodroma neglecta)
Plates 9 and 12

Field Characters: 91/38. This medium to large-sized petrel is a polymorphic species. with light, dark and many intermediate colour phases occurring. All have conspicuous white underwing flashes.

(a)Light Phase: (Plate 12) Head pale grey with the remainder of the upper parts sooty brown. At close range the light shafts of the primaries are readily discernible. Underbody white, except page 39 for the dark undertail coverts. Underwing variably dark brown, with conspicuous white subterminal patch formed by white bases to primaries.
(b)Dark Phase: (Plate 9) Uniformly dark brown except for conspicuous white underwing flashes and light primary shafts.
(c)Intermediate Phase: Combination of above plumage patterns with the many different variations of dark brown and white colour distribution mainly confined to the underbody, e.g.:
(a)Dark head and broad breast band with throat and belly remaining white.
(b)Dark head and throat with remainder of underparts light greyish brown.
(c)All dark brown with some white freckling on breast and belly.

With all colour phases the short bill is black, and the feet are flesh-colour with black tips.

Birds of the light phase are generally easy to identify although the light-phase Herald Petrel (59) can appear very similar to them at sea.

Intermediate-phase birds can be differentiated from the Phoenix (56) and the Tahiti Petrels (55) by the white subterminal patch in the underwing. They are, however, difficult to distinguish from intermediate-phase Herald Petrels (59).

Individuals of the dark phase are very similar to the Bird of Providence (21) and the dark-phase Herald Petrel (59).

Flight usually low to water, with steep banking and gliding interspersed with unhurried, loose wingbeats. Does not follow ships.

Widely distributed in the subtropical South Pacific. Breeds locally on the Kermadec and Lord Howe Islands.