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

29. Cape Pigeon — (Daption capensis) — Plate 10

29. Cape Pigeon
(Daption capensis)
Plate 10

Two subspecies:

Cape Pigeon (D. capensis capensis)

Snares Cape Pigeon (D. capensis australis)

The two subspecies are not distinguishable from each other at sea with any certainty.

Field Characters: 82/38. An unmistakable, medium-sized petrel with bold chequered plumage pattern. Entire head and mantle black, remainder of upperbody dappled black and white, tail tip black. Upperwing predominantly black with two conspicuous white ‘windows’. Underbody white except for dark throat and black tail tip. Underwing mostly white with black leading and trailing margins.

Bill and feet black.

Differs from the Antarctic Petrel (22) by its smaller size and chequered appearance.

A gregarious, widespread and abundant species. Commonly follows ships, often in numbers, with buoyant gliding and flapping flight. Noisy when quarrelling over scraps.

The northern race (D. c. australis) is a summer breeder on Snares, Antipodes, Bounty, Auckland and Campbell Islands. The southern race (D. c. capensis) is a circumpolar summer breeder on subantarctic islands, including some places on the Antarctic mainland. Both races common in New Zealand seas, particularly during the winter months.