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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Puffinus Bulleri. — (Buller’s Shearwater.)

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Puffinus Bulleri.
(Buller’s Shearwater.)

  • Puffinus bulleri, Salvin, Ibis, 1888, p. 354.

Ad. suprà saturatè griseus, capite toto suprà cum cervice posticà fuliginoso-nigris, loris et regione ophthalmicâ vix griseo intermixtis: tectricibus alarum minoribus fuliginoso-nigris, majoribus externè griseis et extrorsum albo limbatis: remigibus fuliginoso-nigris, pogonio interno bitriente interno nigro: paginâ alarum inferiore et corpore subtùs niveis, crisso utrinque schistaceo limbato: caudâ cuueatâ nigricante, rectricibus lateralibus griseo tinctis: rostro obscurè plumbeo, mandibulâ infrà carneâ: pedibus externè corylinis, internè flavis.

Adult male. General upper surface dark slaty grey, shading into sooty brown on the crown, nape, and small wing-coverts; the secondaries and their coverts margined with greyish white; the primaries and the tail-feathers black in their whole extent, the former greyish white on the under surface, except towards the tips; the tertials and the scapulars brownish black, more or less tipped with grey; the upper tail-coverts somewhat lighter than the plumage of the back, and each feather narrowly tipped with greyish white; throat, sides of face, the entire fore neck, and all the underparts pure white, except that the lateral under tail-coverts are slaty grey on their outer webs; under surface of wings and axillary plumes pure white, only the long covert of the first primary on each wing showing a tendency to grey. Irides black; bill blue-black, fading into bluish grey on the sides of both mandibles; inner side of tarsi, which are much flattened, the middle and inner toes, and the interdigital web flesh-white; outer aspect of tarsi and the whole of the outer toe brownish black. Total length 19·5 inches; extent of wings 40; wing, from flexure, 12; tail 6; bill, along the ridge 2, along the edge of lower mandible 2·1; tarsus 1·8; middle toe and claw 2·5.

Female. Mr. Salvin’s collection contains a specimen (purchased from Mr. Whitely, of Woolwich, as having come from New Zealand) which is duller in plumage than my bird, with more brown on the upper surface. This is probably the female.

The only example of this fine Petrel I have had an opportunity of examining in the flesh was picked up by myself on the ocean-beach near the mouth of the Waikanae river on the 1st October, 1884, having been blown ashore by the “rangawhenua,” as the Maoris call all winds from the sea.

It is remarkable for its length of neck and tail. Indeed at first sight it looks more like a small Shag than a Petrel, and several of the Maoris at Waikanae to whom I showed it declared that it really was a Kawau till I pointed out to them its tubular nostrils. It proved on dissection to be a male.

On passing Whale Island in a boat with a Maori crew in the summer of 1886, a black-looking Petrel with a conspicuously long tail hovered over us for some time and then steered out seaward at a considerable elevation and with a swift flight. On asking our steersman, Wepiha, if he knew the bird, he replied “He Kahu no te moana” (a Hawk from the sea). Unless I am right in referring the bird to the above species, I am unable to identify it, for it never came very near to us, and did not reappear from the dreary waste of waters.

Mr. Salvin, who has been good enough to dedicate the species to myself, writes of it:—“This distinct species appears to belong to the section of the genus possessing long cuneate tails, of which P. chlororhynchus is the best-known species. Its coloration at once makes it easily recognizable, no other species having a grey mantle, with which the dark head and dark wings are in striking contrast, this style of coloration being characteristic of many species of Æstrelata.