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

41. Blue Petrel — (Halobaena caerulea) — Plate 17

41. Blue Petrel
(Halobaena caerulea)
Plate 17

Field Characters: 58/30. A small, grey, prion-like petrel with conspicuous dark cap and white-tipped tail. Forehead white, mottled with grey; crown, nape, and sides of neck dark grey, the latter forming an obvious tapering. incomplete collar. Remainder of upperparts grey with a dark narrow open ‘M’ marking extending from wing tip to wing tip. Tail square, conspicuously tipped with white. Underparts entirely white.

Bill black, feet greyish blue with either cream coloured or light grey webs.

Easily distinguished from prions (42-47) by its black bill, white forehead and white tip to tail.

The gliding flight is swift, weaving and erratic. Blue Petrels are gregarious at sea, with flocks of several dozen or more individuals flying in unison low to the water. Does not follow ships.

Regular winter visitor to New Zealand seas. Encountered in greatest numbers in Antarctic waters, near ice. Breeds in summer at Kerguelen, Crozets and Marion Islands.