Mascarene Petrel

Gadfly petrel

The gadfly petrels are seabirds in the bird order Procellariiformes. These medium to large petrels feed on food items picked from the ocean surface.

The short, sturdy bills of the Pterodroma species in this group, about 35 altogether, are adapted for soft prey taken at the surface; they have twisted intestines for digesting marine animals which have unusual biochemistries.

Their complex wing and face marking are probably for interspecific recognition.

These birds nest in colonies on islands and are pelagic when not breeding. One white egg is laid usually in a burrow or on open ground. They are nocturnal at the breeding colonies.

Species in taxonomic order

The taxonomy of the gadfly petrels is being reformed at the moment. Several genera have been split off over time, as they are closer to the procellarine and Puffinus shearwaters. Some subspecies have been raised to full species rank. The arrangement given here is traditional, but annotates the changes proposed by Austin (1998) and Bretagnolle et al. (1998). For the current taxonomy, see also Brooke (2004).

The Cookilaria group, regarded by some authorities as a subgenus, consists of the following species: Cook's, Pycroft's, De Filippi's, Stejneger's, Black-winged, Chatham Islands, Bonin, Mottled, Gould's and Collared Petrels.

Genus Pterodroma

Now Lugensa (allied to Puffinus)

Now Pseudobulweria (allied to Puffinus)

A Pleistocene fossil from Aldabra, Indian Ocean, was described as Pterodroma kurodai. Biogeographically, it could belong into any genus.

References

  • Austin, Jeremy J. (1996): Molecular Phylogenetics of Puffinus Shearwaters: Preliminary Evidence from Mitochondrial Cytochrome b Gene Sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 6(1): 77–88 (HTML abstract)
  • Bretagnolle, V., Attié, C., Pasquet, E., (1998) "Cytochrome-B evidence for validity and phylogenetic relationships of Pseudobulweria and Bulweria (Procellariidae)" Auk 115(1):188-195 PDf fulltext
  • Brooke, M. (2004): Albatrosses and Petrels Across the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 0-19-850125-0

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