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

33. Diving Petrel — (Pelecanoides urinatrix) — Plate 14

page 43

33. Diving Petrel
(Pelecanoides urinatrix)
Plate 14

Three subspecies:

Northern Diving Petrel (P. urinatrix urinatrix)

Southern Diving Petrel (P. urinatrix chathamensis)

Subantarctic Diving Petrel (P. urinatrix exsul)

The three subspecies cannot be distinguished from each other at sea.

Field Characters: 38/23. A very small, chunky, black and white petrel with short rounded wings. Upperparts black; underparts appearing mostly white at sea. Small bill and short square tail emphasise the plump appearance of the body.

Bill black; feet bright blue with grey webs.

Its small size, characteristic shape and flight behaviour prevent confusion with any other petrel.

The sudden emergence from the sea, followed by a very rapid, bumble bee-like flight, just above the waves is characteristic. Can fly through waves with ease. Dives well, using wings for propulsion under water. Primarily restricted to coastal waters, although birds can be encountered far from land.

Summer breeder locally on many islands around the New Zealand coasts, from Three Kings to the Auckland Islands, and on some islands off the coasts of Victoria and Tasmania.