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

51. White-Bellied Storm Petrel — (Fregretta grallaria) — Plate 19

51. White-Bellied Storm Petrel
(Fregretta grallaria)
Plate 19

Field Characters: 44/18. Upperparts sooty black, except for a conspicuous white ‘rump’ patch, formed by the white uppertail coverts. At very close range the white edging to the feathers of the back and upperwing coverts give the bird a scaly appearance. Throat, upper breast and undertail coverts black; lower breast and belly white. Underwing white, with broad black margins. The tail is slightly notched.

Bill and feet, including webs, black.

Differs from Grey-backed Storm Petrel (50) by its prominent white rump patch, and from Black-bellied Storm Petrel (52) by its pure white lower breast and belly.

Flight, the usual storm petrel fluttering with fast wingbeats and short glides, as well as the butterfly-like skipping and hopping along the surface with dangling legs. Occasionally follows in ship's wake.

Breeds during winter on Macauley (Kermadec Is.) and Lord Howe Islands, and is known to breed on several other islands in the subtropical Pacific. Disperses north into the tropics. Only very rarely recorded in New Zealand waters.

Note: A dark phase of this species occurs at Lord Howe Island. Birds of this phase are sooty black except for a white rump patch. They cannot easily be distinguished from Wilson's Storm Petrels (49) at sea.