• Scientific Name: Pterodroma alba (Gmelin, 1789)
  • Polynesian Names: Putuputu (Pitcairn)
  • Order: Procellariiformes
  • Family: Procellariidae
  • CategorySeabirds
  • Location: Marquesas, Phoenix islands and Christmas Island (Kiribati), Pitcairn

Apearance and identification

14 inches. Black and white petrel with head, back, throat and wings similarly black and a white belly. Looks like the Tahitian Petrel, Pseudobulweria rostrata but has, unlike the latter, some white feathers on the throat (often difficult to see). Its beak, strong and black, is characteristic of the Petrels: it is hooked at its end and surmounted by two horny tubes upon which the nostrils open. The legs are black and pink. Its flight is graceful alternating with long phases of arched shaped glided flight. Its wedge tail is pointed in flight. Unlike the Tahiti Petrel, it flies over its colonies at day time.

Videos

Voice

Characteristics

Breeds in the Marquesas (Hatuta’a, Fatu Huku and Ua Pou islets) and perhaps the Tuamotu but also in Kiribati (Phœnix Islands, Christmas Island), and Pitcairn.

On Hatuta’a a hundred couples were seen getting ready to nest in April 2002. A single egg, (56 x 42 mm) is laid.

Pelagic, it nests in large clumps of grass (Eragrostis xerophila) and flys over its colony early in the afternoon singing and performing flight displays.

« qui-qui-qui-qui-qui.. » repeated a dozen times very quickly, like a rattle, often ending in a cooing.

Cephalopods, fish, crustaceans and insects.

Location

Breeds in the Marquesas (Hatuta’a, Fatu Huku and Ua Pou islets) and perhaps the Tuamotu but also in Kiribati (Phœnix Islands, Christmas Island), and Pitcairn.

Breeding

On Hatuta’a a hundred couples were seen getting ready to nest in April 2002. A single egg, (56 x 42 mm) is laid.

Habitat

Pelagic, it nests in large clumps of grass (Eragrostis xerophila) and flys over its colony early in the afternoon singing and performing flight displays.

Voice

« qui-qui-qui-qui-qui.. » repeated a dozen times very quickly, like a rattle, often ending in a cooing.

Food

Cephalopods, fish, crustaceans and insects.

Status and protection

Was spotted breeding only on ten different areas where its numbers are falling. The species is vulnerable to extinction because its populations are declining on the islands where cats and rats were introduced. In the Marquesas, the species is present on islands free of black rats and cats but where Polynesian rats are present.

The species is listed as “Vulnerable” (VU) on the France and Polynesia 2015 UICN Red List but “Endangered” (EN) on the IUCN Red List.

The species is listed in category A of the list of species protected by the territorial regulations of French Polynesia.

Original text by Caroline BLANVILLAIN – Supplements and update by various members of the SOP Manu.