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

49. Wilson's Storm Petrel — (Oceanites oceanicus) — Plate 18

49. Wilson's Storm Petrel
(Oceanites oceanicus)
Plate 18

Field Characters: 41/18. Upperparts sooty brown (appearing black at sea), except for a conspicuous white ‘rump’ patch formed by the white uppertail coverts, the colour of which extends on to the flanks. Upperwings sooty black with an obvious greyish-brown crescent formed by the pale greater secondary upperwing coverts. Tail square. Underparts, including underwing sooty brown except for white outer undertail coverts and white flanks. When flying, the bird's long legs extend well beyond the tail.

Bill black. Feet black with yellow webs. These are discernible at close range, when the bird is hovering.

The only all-dark storm petrel with a white rump likely to be seen in New Zealand waters.

Flight fluttering, with rapid wingbeats interspersed with short glides. Often hovering near surface of water with hanging feet and erratically hopping and skipping along in a butterfly-like manner. Follows in ship's wake regularly in pursuit of planktonic organisms churned up by the propellers.

A summer breeder on Antarctic coasts and islands. Migrates to the Northern Hemisphere for the southern winter.