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A History of the Birds of New Zealand.

Œstrelata Neglecta. — (Schlegel’s Petrel.)

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Œstrelata Neglecta.
(Schlegel’s Petrel.)

  • Procellaria neglecta, Schl. Mus. Pays-Bas, Procell. p. 10 (1863).

  • ÆSTRELATA neglecta, Coues, Proc. Phil. Acad. 1866, p. 170.

Ad. suprà sordidè nigricanti-brunneus: remigibus obscurioribus: præpectore pallidè brunneo: corpore subtùs albo: rostro nigro: pedibus sordidè flavis, digitis et membranis exterioribus nigricantibus.

Adult. Crown of the head and hind neck sooty brown, mixed on the latter with white; the rest of the upper surface brownish black; the interscapulars and small wing-coverts narrowly margined with pale brown; around the eyes there is an obscure mark of brown which fades away on the face; the whole of the under-surface pure white; some of the axillary plumes slaty grey with white tips, others white clouded with grey, as also are the feathers forming the lining of the wings; quills brownish black with white shafts and white on the inner webs, shading into brownish black at the tips; tail-feathers and upper tail-coverts brownish black, white at the base, which, however, is only visible on disturbing the plumage. Irides and bill black; tarsi and basal portion of toes pale yellow, the rest of the feet black. Total length 15·5 inches; wing, from flexure, 12; tail 4; bill, along the ridge 1·5, along the edge of lower mandible 1·7; tarsus 1·7; middle toe and claw 2·25.

Obs. In some specimens there is an obscure patch of brown on each side of the breast; in others it spreads into a broad yellowish-brown pectoral band, narrower in the centre.

The claim of this species to a place in our avifauna rests at present only on a label in a continental museum; but it is a Petrel that is almost certain to be met with in our seas, and I have therefore felt no hesitation in including it on what might otherwise have been very insufficient authority.

There is likewise a dark-coloured form, in which the whole of the plumage is sooty brown, deepening to brownish black on the upper parts. This colour, however, is confined to the surface, the whole of the plumage being pure white underneath. In this dark form, which Mr. Salvin refers without hesitation to Æ. neglecta, the legs and feet are entirely black. This cannot be due to immaturity, inasmuch as nestlings pass from the down into both phases of plumage, and we must therefore regard it as another illustration of that law of dimorphism among sea-birds for which, at present, we are utterly unable to account.

Dr. Coues thinks that this form may be referred to parvirostris; but Mr. Salvin regards it as a true species. My description is taken from the single example in the British Museum.