Tag Archives: Pterodroma

Pterodroma rupinarum (Olson)

Saint Helena Petrel (Pterodroma rupinarum)

The Saint Helena Petrel was described in 1975, it is known only from subfossil remains.

The species disappeared shortly after the first human settlers set their feet onto the island probably due to direct hunting but also due to predation by introduced mammalian predators.


edited: 29.05.2021

Pterodroma sp. ‘Mangareva’

Small Mangarevan Petrel (Pterodroma sp.)

There might once have been a population of small petrels closely related to Cook’s Petrel (Pterodroma cookii (G. R. Gray)) and Stejneger’s Petrel (Pterodroma longirostris (Stejneger)) breeding on the island of Mangareva, Gambier Islands in eastern Polynesia.

This assumed species is known only from the remains of a single bird, merely from a single wing.:

I went to top of Mangareva island and found a body of Ducie shearwater eaten by cat (?) on hillside, near top.” [1]

These remains were then brought to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, USA, where they were investigated in the 1990s and found to very likely constitute some distinct form.:

The only remains of this bird is a wing in a museum collection (AMNH, label no. 191743). It belongs to a small petrell: the wing pattern, as well as size, suggest that it is a Cookilaria, possibly close to P. leucoptera; it may represent a specimen of an extinct or an unknwon population. No evidence of the presence of such a pop- ulation (e.g. vocalisation) was obtained in 1995–96 during at least 10 nights on Mangareva.” [2]


The first account mentiones that the bird was most likely eaten by a cat, this little mention tells us more or less all about the fate of this species, if it indeed was a distinct species.

There are several seabird species known to have once bred on Mangareva, most are now gone, some still breed on the little islets around the main island, but most are now gone fore good.



[1] Whitney South Sea Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History. Extracts from the journal of Rollo H. Beck. Vol. 1, Sept. 1920 – June 1923
[2] Jean-Claude Thibault; Vincent Bretagnolle: Breeding Seabirds of Gambier Islands, Eastern Polynesia: numbers and changes during the 20th century. EMU 99: 100-107. 1999


edited: 12.03.2020

Pterodroma sp. ‘Henderson Island’

Small Henderson Island Petrel (Pterodroma sp.)

The archaeological sites on Henderson Island, Pitcairn Islands, yielded numerous subfossil bones of several bird species, most of which are now extinct.

The seabirds are represented by several species that formerly bred on the island and some that still do so today.

The four subfossil bones discussed here, found in a cave named Lone Frigate Cave, however, appear to represent a unknown species that does not fit to any of the recent species. This form was smaller than all other species breeding on Henderson Island today; the Phoenix Petrel (Pterodroma alba (Gmelin)), the Herald Petrel (Pterodroma heraldica Salvin), and Murphy’s Petrel (Pterodroma ultima Murphy).

The species is obviously not identical to the Henderson Petrel (Pterodroma atrata Mathews), which is endemic to Henderson Island and still extant. [1]


It has nevertheless not yet been described because there are several uncertainties regarding the species-level systematics and osteology within the family Procellariidae. [1]



[1] Susan E. Schubel; David W. Steadman: More bird bones from Polynesian archaeological sites on Henderson Island, Pitcairn group, South Pacific. Atoll Research Bulletin, 325: 1-14. 1989


edited: 18.11.2012