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Gadfly Petrels

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Procellariiformes
Family: Procellariidae
Genus: Pterodroma
Bonaparte, 1856
About 35, see text.

The gadfly petrels are seabirds in the bird order Procellariiformes. These medium to large petrels feed on food items picked from the ocean surface.

The short, sturdy bills of the Pterodroma species in this group, about 35 altogether, are adapted for soft prey taken at the surface; they have twisted intestines for digesting marine animals which have unusual biochemistries.

Their complex wing and face marking are probably for interspecific recognition.

These birds nest in colonies on islands and are pelagic when not breeding. One white egg is laid usually in a burrow or on open ground. They are nocturnal at the breeding colonies.


The taxonomy of the gadfly petrels is being reformed at the moment. Several genera have been split off over time, as they are closer to the procellarine and Puffinus shearwaters. Some subspecies have been raised to full species rank. The arrangement given here is traditional, but annotates the changes proposed by Austin (1998) and Bretagnolle et al. (1998). For the current taxonomy, see also Brooke (2004).

Genus Pterodroma

  • Barau's Petrel, Pterodroma baraui
    Herald Petrel, Pterodroma arminjoniana
    Juan Fernandez Petrel, Pterodroma externa
    Kermadec Petrel, Pterodroma neglecta
    Galapagos Petrel, Pterodroma phaeopygia
    Hawaiian Petrel, Pterodroma sandwichensis
    Henderson Petrel, Pterodroma atrata
    Herald Petrel, Pterodroma heraldica
    Phoenix Petrel, Pterodroma alba
    Fea's Petrel, Pterodroma feae
    Zino's Petrel or Madeira Petrel, Pterodroma madeira
    Canary Islands Petrel, Pterodroma sp. (prehistoric) - possibly extirpated population of extant species
    Soft-plumaged Petrel, Pterodroma mollis
    Bermuda Petrel, Pterodroma cahow
    Black-capped Petrel, Pterodroma hasitata
    Jamaica Petrel, Pterodroma caribbaea (probably extinct)
    Atlantic Petrel, Pterodroma incerta
    White-headed Petrel, Pterodroma lessonii
    Magenta Petrel, Pterodroma magentae
    Great-winged Petrel, Pterodroma macroptera
    Providence Petrel, Pterodroma solandri
    Murphy's Petrel, Pterodroma ultima
    Mottled Petrel, Pterodroma inexpectata
    Pycroft's Petrel, Pterodroma pycrofti
    Stejneger's Petrel, Pterodroma longirostris
    Collared Petrel, Pterodroma brevipes
    Gould's Petrel, Pterodroma leucoptera
    Mangareva Petrel, Pterodroma cf. leucoptera (possibly extinct)
    Cook's Petrel, Pterodroma cookii
    Mas a Tierra Petrel, Pterodroma defilippiana
    Bonin Petrel, Pterodroma hypoleuca
    White-necked Petrel, Pterodroma cervicalis
    Falla's Petrel, Pterodroma occulta
    Black-winged Petrel, Pterodroma nigripennis
    Chatham Petrel, Pterodroma axillaris
    Chatham Extinct Petrel, Pterodroma sp. (prehistoric)
    Henderson Island Petrel, Pterodroma sp. (prehistoric)
    O‘ahu Petrel, Pterodroma jugabilis (prehistoric)

Now Lugensa (allied to Puffinus)

  • Kerguelen Petrel, Pterodroma brevirostris

Now Pseudobulweria (allied to Puffinus)

  • Fiji Petrel Pterodroma macgillivrayi
    Tahiti Petrel, Pterodroma rostrata
    Beck's Petrel, Pterodroma becki
    Mascarene Petrel, Pterodroma aterrima
    St Helena Petrel, Pterodroma rupinarum (extinct)


  • Austin, Jeremy J. (1996): Molecular Phylogenetics of Puffinus Shearwaters: Preliminary Evidence from Mitochondrial Cytochrome b Gene Sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 6(1): 77–88 DOI:10.1006/mpev.1996.0060 (HTML abstract)
  • Bretagnolle, V., Attié, C., Pasquet, E., (1998) "Cytochrome-B evidence for validity and phylogenetic relationships of Pseudobulweria and Bulweria (Procellariidae)" Auk 115(1):188-195 PDf fulltext
  • Brooke, M. (2004): Albatrosses and Petrels Across the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 0-19-850125-0

Home | Up | Albatrosses | Gannets | Gulls | Haematopodidae | Hydrobatidae | Penguins | Pterodroma | Shearwaters | Skuas | Storm-petrels | Terns

Birds Guide, made by MultiMedia | Free content and software

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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