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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Pelecanoides Urinatrix. — (Diving-Petrel.)

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Pelecanoides Urinatrix.

  • Diving Petrel, Lath. Gen. Syn. iii. pt. 2, p. 413 (1785).

  • Procellaria urinatrix, Gm. Syst. Nat. i. p. 560 (1788, ex Lath.).

  • Pelecanoides urinatrix, Lacép. Mém. de l’Inst. 1800, p. 517.

  • Halodroma urinatrix, Illiger, Prodr. Syst. Mamm. et Av. p. 274 (1811).

  • Procellaria tridactyla, Forst. Descr. Anim. p. 149 (1844).

  • Puffinuria urinatrix, Gould, B. of Austr. pl. 60 (1848).

  • Haladroma berardii, Bonap. Consp. Av. ii. p. 206 (1857, nec Temm.).

Ad. suprà nitenti-niger, scapularibus albo apicaliter vix notatis: collo laterali fuscescenti-cinereo: fronte brunnescente: subtùs albus, hypochondriis cinereo lavatis: rostro nigro: pedibus cyanescentibus, viridi tinctis, palmis cyanescenti-albis: iride nigrâ.

Adult. Crown and sides of the head, hind neck, and all the upper surface shining steel-black; the forehead tinged with brown, the sides of the neck dusky, and the scapulars touched with white; throat, fore neck, and all the underparts pure white; the sides of the body and flanks sometimes stained with grey. Irides and bill black; legs and feet cobalt, tinged with green, the webs bluish white. Length 9·5 inches; extent of wings 16·5; wing, from flexure, 5·5; tail 2; bill, along the ridge ·75, along the edge of lower mandible ·75; tarsus 1; middle toe and claw 1·5.

Nestling. Covered with sooty-grey down; head and neck nearly bare; black feathers first appear on the wings.

The Diving-Petrel is very common in the seas surrounding New Zealand, consorting in flocks, and living on medusæ and other marine productions. It is specially abundant at all seasons in the Gulf of Hauraki. Its flight, which is rather laboured, consists of a rapid fluttering movement along the surface of the water: then it drops and dives through the waves with amazing agility. Latham states that they “croak like frogs, and sometimes make a noise like the cackling of a hen.” My description is taken from a specimen picked up on the Waikanae beach in September 1863.

They swim in the sea with the head much uplifted, and are very active on the water.

Some years ago, during a severe gale, many hundreds of them were cast ashore in the Bay of Plenty, and it was observed that a number of them were afflicted with a large flat tick measuring ·25 of an inch across the body and legs.

The stomach of one I opened contained black comminuted matter and one or two small seeds, apparently of some kind of seaweed. I observed that the skin of this bird was very tough and thick, the roots of the feathers appearing underneath as in the Penguins and some other birds.

The young birds are so fat that it may truly be said of them that a wick inserted through the body of a dead one will burn as steadily as if in a lamp!

Mr. Burton found this Petrel breeding on Stephen’s Island, in Cook’s Strait. It also breeds on Karewa Island (off Tauranga), on the small islets off the Great Barrier, and on the “Hen and Chickens.”

Specimens of the egg in my son’s collection from Portland Island are almost spherical, measuring 1·5 inch in length by 1·2 in breadth; they are yellowish white, with a smooth surface.