Collared Petrel (Pterodroma brevipes)

The Collared Petrel (Pterodroma brevipes) is a species of seabird in the Procellariidae family. It is sometimes regarded as a subspecies of Gould’s Petrel (P. leucoptera).

Its breeding range is uncertain and it is currently known to breed only in Fiji where it occurs on Gau and at Nabukelevu on Kadavu  (BirdLife survey).

It nests on steep, forested slopes in a burrow or among tree roots. It feeds in open seas and some disperse into the central Pacific outside the breeding season.

Nabukelevu on Kadavu is the only known nesting site in Fiji for the Polynesian Storm-petrel and one of a handful of sites for the Collared Petrel but the current status of these species is unknown (none were seen during the BirdLife survey).

It supports all the four species and eight subspecies endemic to Kadavu, including good numbers of Kadavu Honeyeaters and probably the largest population of the montane Island Thrush subspecies T. p. ruficeps.

Nabukelevu is the highest mountain on Kadavu and the largest area of montane forest in west Kadavu. It holds the four bird species endemic to Kadavu, and may still support nesting colonies of threatened seabirds.

On Gau island, 165 birds were attracted to lights on four nights in April-May 1984 (Watling 1985). However, in recent surveys for this species at the historical breeding site of Ovalau (July 2004) none were seen (G. Dutson in litt.2005). A more recent survey at Mt Washington (=Nabukulevu) on Kadavu recorded fewer than five, although the visit was outside the breeding season (S. Cranwell and J. Bird in litt).

Physical charateristics

Small and variable black-capped gadfly petrel of the Cookilaria group. Forehead white merging into dark brownish-grey cap and sides of cheeks, upperparts grey. Underparts highly variable: pale morphs almost all white, intermediate morphs have dark collar across the chect, dark morphs have dark grey underparts except whitish chin and throat.

Habitat

Breeds on forested slopes on remote ocean islands. During non-breeding season probably largely pelagic. Doesn’t, however, seem to leave the vicinity of the breeding islands.

Comments

  1. Collared Petrels have been recorded breeding on at least nine islands in Fiji, Vanuatu and Raratonga, but extant populations have only been confirmed on Gau, Kadavu, Erromango, Tanna and Vanua Lava. See Tennyson, A.J.D., Miskelly, C.M., and Totterman, S.L. (2012) Observations of collared petrels (Pterodroma brevipes) on Vanua Lava, Vanuatu, and a review of the species’ breeding distribution. Notornis 59, 39-48.

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