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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Pelecanoides Berardi. — (Bérard’s Diving-Petrel.)

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Pelecanoides Berardi.
(Bérard’s Diving-Petrel.)

  • Procellaria bérard, Quoy et Gaim. Voy. Uran., Zool. p. 135 (1824).

  • Haladroma berardii, Temm. Pl. Col. 517 (1831).

  • Pelecanoides berardii, Gray, Gen. of B. iii. p. 646 (1844).

Ad. similis P. urinatrici, sed rostro tenuiore, pedibus flavicantibus, palmis nigricantibus.

Adult. Similar to P. urinatrix, but with a more slender bill, and having the legs and feet yellowish, with dark webs. Length 7 inches; wing, from flexure, 4·25; tail 1·5; bill, following the curvature of upper mandible ·6, from gape to extremity of lower mandible ·8; tarsus ·75; middle toe and claw 1·1.

The above description was taken from a specimen obtained by Mr. Henry Travers on Pitt’s Island, in January 1872, this being my authority for admitting the species into our list of birds. I have never met with it since in New Zealand, and am somewhat in doubt about the propriety of retaining the species, the colour of the feet being a very unreliable test of specific distinctness. I ought, however, to mention that I examined four specimens in the Natural-History Museum at the Jardin des Plantes, and that they all had yellowish legs and feet.

Dr. Finsch also identified a specimen brought by Mr. Henry Travers as belonging to this species Trans. N.-Z. Inst. vol. vii. p. 234).

It is very closely allied to P. urinatrix; and its habits of life are doubtless the same.

At noon on the 29th of December, as we were passing Rangitoto, near the entrance to the Auckland harbour, in a little costal steamer, we came upon a flock of Petrels to the number of 80 or 100. They allowed us to approach very near before they rose; then they took wing irregularly, kept close to the surface, with a vigorous flight, and took to the water again nearer to the island. I could not positively identify the bird, but it probably was either this species or the preceding one. The flock kept well together, and the birds seemed very restless and playful.

Mr. Percy Seymour sends me the following note:—“I have obtained information on good autho rity of eggs being collected after August 15th which contained embryos, and fresh eggs again in October. It builds a small nest in a burrow, but I have not yet obtained the egg.”

Mr. A. J. Campbell writes:—“On some isolated islets in Bass’s Strait, Diving-Petrels are numerous. They generally remain in the vicinity of these rocks, but at times disappear for two or three months. During June and July the birds come ashore to scrape out or prepare their nest-burrows. The laying-season occurs about the end of July, and continues for about a fortnight. Each female bird deposits one egg only in a burrow, which is from 6 to 8 inches deep, under ground or under a ledge of rock.”