Home
Donate Sign up for e-network
CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good
ABOUT ACTION PROGRAMS SPECIES NEWSROOM PUBLICATIONS SUPPORT

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

NATURAL HISTORY

Magenta petrel } Pterodroma magentae
FAMILY: Procellariidae

DESCRIPTION: Reaching about 38 centimeters in length, the Magenta petrel is a medium-sized, dark brownish-gray and white petrel with a black bill and pink legs.

HABITAT: This seabird is endemic to Chatham Island off mainland New Zealand. Its habitat is rugged and isolated.

RANGE: Although historically Magenta petrels were distributed throughout Chatham, they are now restricted to one forested valley system on the southwest corner of the island. At sea, the bird probably ranges eastward into the Pacific Ocean to waters off western South America.

MIGRATION: This bird is migratory; however, the destination of its migration during the winter months is unknown. 

BREEDING: Males return to their colony from sea between the ages four and five, females do so at between six and nine, and the bird’s first breeding is at around 10 years of age. The petrel’s breeding season lasts from November to June. The bird breeds in underground burrows and has a clutch size of one egg, which is incubated by both parents. Breeding pairs form a lifelong bond.

LIFE CYCLE:  This seabird may live for more than 30 years.

FEEDING: Although limited data on feeding is available, this bird’s diet is known to consist of squid.

THREATS: The arrival of mammalian predators — particularly cats, pigs, and rodents— the introduction of weka, and the loss of forest habitat are likely to have been the main causes of the Magenta petrel’s decline. In addition, 95 percent of nonbreeding adults are male; thus, critically low population levels may be causing male birds difficulty in attracting a mate.

POPULATION TREND: This bird’s population is decreasing. Currently, only 120 to 150 individual birds survive. It is estimated that eight to 15 breeding pairs exist in the world. 

Magenta petrel photo © Graeme Taylor, New Zealand Department of Conservation