Fiji Petrel (Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi)

The Fiji Petrel (Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi), also known as MacGillivray’s Petrel  is a small, all black-brown petrel with a short neck and stout black bill giving it a chunky, thickset appearance.

It measures up to 28cm from the tip of its beak to the tip of its tail. In flight, the underwing has a pale silvery sheen. It has a pale washed-out blue tarsi; mostly black feet with a pale blue patch on centre of each web.

The Fiji Petrel (Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi) is a small, dark gadfly petrel.

The Fiji Petrel was originally known from one immature specimen found in 1855 on Gau IslandFiji by naturalist John MacGillivray on board ‘HMS Herald’ who took the carcass to the British Museum in London.

It was only rediscovered in 1983, since when there have been a further seven records, which included the capture and photographing of one adult in April 1984. This species is classified as critically endangered as it is inferred from the number of records that there is only a tiny population of less than 50 confined to a very small breeding area.

This bird is described as being 30cm tall dark with chocolate-coloured feathers, a dark eye and bill and pale blue foot patches. It may be seen in waters around Gau Island but is believed to disperse to pelagic waters far from the island.

The Fiji Petrel (Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi) is protected under Fijian law. In 1989, research on the ridge on the island of Gau around possible nesting areas was stopped since it was felt that such activities, without complementary conservation action, could encourage cats to follow paths into the area.

In August 2007, a recent skin of an injured Fiji Petrel, that subsequently died was made available for study in Fiji.

In May 2009, the first photographs of the bird at sea were taken approximately 25 nautical miles (46 km) south of Gau Island.

A recent expedition with specially trained Petrel Detector Dogs was run in 2010 with many burrows found.

See the news article at this link: Fiji Petrel Detector Dogs Make a Major Discovery


See the following news articles on this site:

  1. Fiji Petrel Interview
  2. 10 Days of Seabird Documentation in Yasayasa Moala
  3. Fiji Petrel Detector Dogs Make a Major Discovery

Discussions with Dick Watling and Hadoram Shirihai lead us to to believe that Kadavu is a prime area for finding another nesting ridge for these rae birds. We hope to mount an expedition in the next year or so to find out!

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