This is the largest storm petrel, measuring up to 25cm from the tip of the beak to the tip of the tail.
Also known as: Polynesian Storm Petrel
This is the largest storm petrel, measuring up to 25cm from the tip of the beak to the tip of the tail. They have sooty black upperparts that contrast with their narrow white rump. The upperwing is sooty brown with a pale bar across middle on inner wing. The underparts are highly variable, light phase birds have pale underparts with a brown breast band, dark birds are totally sooty-black. The tail is dark and moderately forked, but this is often difficult to see as the feet trail beyond the tail. Distribution
The Polynesian Storm Petrel is a storm-petrel of the tropical Pacific which is known to breed in the Line and Phoenix Islands, Kiribati, widespread but nowhere very common throughout French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Sala y Gomez, Chile. Historically it is known to have bred in Fiji, the Samoan Archipelago and Vanuatu and pre-historically in Tonga, but there are no recent confirmed breeding or sight records. On our map here, we have highlighted Mt. Nabukelevu (also known as Mt. Washington) in south western Kadavu, where the first record was made in 1876.Habitat Ecology and Behaviour
A storm petrel of the tropical Pacific, the Polynesian Storm Petrel is not known to disperse far from its breeding islands, perhaps along the South Equatorial Current. It usually breeds in small loosely-formed colonies, with nests placed under overhanging grass or in rock screes or crevices. A single egg is laid. Current records throughout its range are from low, uninhabited islands, but old records indicate nesting in upland areas.
The Polynesian Storm Petrel has a very characteristic flight in a fair wind, springing up from the water with long legs dangling, sails in an arc on broad stiff wings before falling back to the water and then repeating the process. In flight the feet usually dangle loosely or project beyond the tail.Threats
The Polynesian Storm Petrel is clearly totally unable to coexist with any introduced predator, even the small Polynesian Rat appears to be too much of a threat for its continued existence and so it is found only on islands without rats (and cats, dogs and mongoose etc.) and where humans rarely or ever visitConservation Status
Where it occurs, the Polynesian Storm Petrel is categorised as Vulnerable, however, it is considered to have become lost from the Fiji islands as a breeding bird. Remarks and Cultural Significance
Where it occurs, the Polynesian Storm Petrel is categorised as Vulnerable, however, it is considered to have become lost from the Fiji islands as a breeding bird. References
Masibalavu and Dutson (2006);
Illustration by: Chloe Talbot Kelly in Watling (2004).