NATURAL HISTORY

GALÁPAGOS PETREL } Pterodroma phaeopygia
FAMILY: Procellariidae

DESCRIPTION: Reaching about 43 centimeters in length, the Galápagos petrel is a large, long-winged gadfly petrel that is grayish-black and white with pink legs and feet and a black bill.

HABITAT: The Galápagos petrel breeds in humid highlands typically above 200 meters in elevation, at sites with dense vegetation and excavation soils. 

RANGE: The petrel is endemic to the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador, breeding on Santa Cruz, Floreana, Santiago, San Cristóbal, Isabela, and possibly other islands in the archipelago. Birds forage around the islands, but also disperse east and north toward South America and up to 2,000 kilometers south.
 
MIGRATION: Where the bird migrates to over the winter months is unknown.

BREEDING: The petrel’s breeding season lasts from April to May. The bird breeds in underground burrows. It has a clutch size of two to four eggs, which are incubated by both parents. Returning each year to the same site, the male Galápagos petrel is faithful to both the female and the nest.

LIFE CYCLE: Because much of the Galápagos petrel’s life cycle is spent at sea, little is known about the bird’s life cycle.

FEEDING: This bird feeds mostly on squid, fish, and crustaceans.

THREATS: The primary threat to the Galápagos petrel is the destruction of its breeding habitat by introduced farm animals, including goats, donkeys, horses, and cattle. In addition, it faces predation by feral cats, pigs, rats, and dogs, as well as the Galápagos hawk.

POPULATION TREND: The population estimate for this species is 20,000 to 60,000 birds, with a decreasing trend.

Galápagos petrel photo © Mike Danzenbaker/www.avesphoto.com