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Herald Petrel

Pétrel du Hérald

Pétrel du Herald


14-27 inches. Male and female identical in appearance. This is a multiphase species, making his distinction with the Kermadec petrel (Pterodroma neglecta) particularly difficult for some plumage phases. The darkest individuals are entirely black, are included under the wings with the exception of a white band at the base of the primary feathers. Lighter feathers are grey-brown on top of the body. The underside is white. The sides is grey. The underside is dark except for the white bands that pass at the base of the primaries. Its beak is strong and black, and is characteristic of the Petrels: it is hooked at its end and surmounted by two horny tubes after which the nostrils open. Leg colour varies according to the phases. It flies with ample wing beats, but short, and long gliding flights. Its tail is rounded.

Order: Procellariiformes

Family: Procellariidae

Category: Seabirds


Breeds in the Marquesas (Ua Pou, Tahuata), South Tuamotu and Gambier (Mangareva, Akamaru) but also in Tonga, Cook Islands and Pitcairn. It is also present in the tropical Atlantic Islands and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.


Pretty sedentary around the islands where it breeds. Selects atolls, islands or rocky cliff ledges on the high islands. Becomes pelagic outside the breeding seasons.

« Ki-ki-ki… » …” rapid and repeated over 20 times followed by more melodious notes: “k-loo” while in flight. Powerful “kree kree” on their breeding area or cackling of terns.

To listen the Herald Petrel:

Mainly squids, but also fishes.

Breeds throughout the year, with a preference for the southern winter in southern Polynesia. The colonies are small and scattered. Couples are loud during the day over the nesting sites and sometimes at night (unlike many petrels that only return to the shore after dark). The nest is a bed of gravel and stones with cornice or a clump of fern. A single white egg (59 x 43 mm) is laid. Reproduction is studied outside French Polynesia. The egg is incubated for 52 days by both sexes alternately. Young fed by both parents, fly off the nest after a 100 days.

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

Atlas des oiseaux marins nicheurs de Polynésie française et du groupe Pitcairn


Scientifique Name: Pterodroma heraldica (Salvin, 1888)

Polynesian Names:
Koputu (Marquesas : Ua Pou, Tahuata)

  • Society
  • Austral (Raivavae)
  • Tuamotu-Gambier
  • Marquesas (Ua Pou, Tahuata, Eiao, Hatuta’a, Mohotani, Fatu Huku)
  • But also Hawaii, Micronesia, Fiji and group Pitcairn


These birds seem sensitive to the presence of black rats and polynesian rats that eat their eggs or chicks.

The species is classified as “Least Concern” (LC) on the IUCN Red List but listed as “Near Threatened” (NT) on the France and Polynesia 2015 UICN Red List.