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Beck's Petrel Pseudobulweria becki
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Justification
This species has recently been rediscovered, with confirmed records of at least 30 and 160 birds from expeditions in 2007 and 2008. It may have declined severely from depredation by introduced cats and rats on its breeding grounds (which are unknown but thought likely to be include New Ireland). However, the paucity of records is most likely because there have been relatively few searches at sea, plus petrels that are nocturnal at the nesting grounds are notoriously difficult to detect, and there are numerous possible breeding sites on isolated atolls and islands that require surveying. A very small number of mature individuals are currently known, all within a single subpopulation which is suspected to have declined, and it is consequently classified as Critically Endangered. It may however qualify for downlisting in the future if further surveys reveal it to be more numerous than is currently known.

Taxonomic source(s)
Brooke, M. de L. 2004. Albatrosses and Petrels Across the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Synonym(s)
Pterodroma becki Collar and Andrew (1988), Pterodroma becki Collar et al. (1994), Pterodroma becki Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)

Identification
29 cm. Small, rather atypical gadfly petrel. Dark, glossy brown upperparts, head and throat. Dark underwings with variably distinct white underwing bar. White breast and belly. Probably solitary at sea, banking and towering more than shearwaters, on straight wings, slightly swept back at tips. Pale throat. Similar spp. Similar to P. rostrata but 25% smaller and with a proportionately more slender bill. In the field Beck's Petrel is apparently noticeably smaller than Tahiti Petrel. Voice Unknown. P. rostrata has a long, elaborate series of whistles at its breeding grounds. Hints Check all gadfly petrels seen from boat trips in northern Melanesia.

Distribution and population
Until recently Pseudobulweria becki was only known from two specimens: a female taken at sea east of New Ireland and north of Buka, Papua New Guinea, on 6 January 1928, and a male taken north-east of Rendova, Solomon Islands, on 18 May 1929 (Murphy and Pennoyer 1952). Three birds probably of this species were seen off New Ireland in the Bismarck Archipelago in 2003 (H. Shirihai in litt. 2007, Shirihai 2008) and in July and August 2007 an expedition recorded the species on seven days and at at least four localities off New Ireland, with at least 30 recorded in a day and a maximum of 16 together, finally confirming the species's rediscovery (Shirihai 2008). Cape St George, at the southern end of the island, appeared the most favoured locality, where birds outnumbered Tahiti Petrel P. rostrata, recently fledged juveniles and moulting adults were seen close to land, and a freshly dead fledgling was found (Shirihai 2008). In 2008 at least 11 were seen off Western Bougainville and Eastern New Ireland in April (C. Collins in litt. 2008), and an expedition in July-August reported 160 birds between New Britain and New Ireland (Shirihai 2008a), though this is the summed count for multiple days and made no attempt to avoid double-counting individuals so is interpreted as an optimistic count for the location (J. Bird in litt. 2012).

It seems likely that the species breeds in the montane forests of southern New Ireland, with the upper slopes of Mt. Agil (also known as Mt. Taron) and the rest of the Hans Meyer Range considered a likely colony location (Bird 2012), but other locations such as around Mt Gilaut further south are also possible breeding locations (Shirihai 2008). Two were seen near Efate in the Vanuatu archipelago in February 2010 (P. Harrison in litt. 2010), while a possible record was seen and photographed from a boat crossing the Coral Sea east of Australia's Great Barrier Reef in 2006 (A. Wilson in litt. 2006), and due to the difficulty of reliable identification in the field a number of records of P. rostrata from the Solomons and Bismarck Archipelago (Coates and Swainson 1978, Coates 1985, Palliser 1987), may also refer to P. becki. The extent of its breeding range and at-sea distribution is still unknown.

Population justification
The population is assumed to be very small, with the species only definitely known from two specimens taken in 1928 and 1929 until its rediscovery in 2007. However, estimates of 160 birds off New Ireland in 2008 suggest it may be more numerous than previously suspected, although this was a summed count made over multiple days. It is placed in the band 50-249 mature individuals here, equivalent to 75-374 individuals in total, rounded here to 70-400 individuals.

Trend justification
It may have declined severely from depredation by introduced cats and rats on its breeding grounds (which are unknown but probably include, or are restricted to, New Ireland). However, the rate of decline has not been estimated.

Ecology
Like P. rostrata elsewhere in the Pacific, it is likely to nest in burrows on the slopes of high mountains on larger islands, but may also breed on small islets. The recent records at sea off New Ireland suggest it may well breed in montane forest at the southern end of this island, around Mt Gilaut and the peaks further east and north, including the Hans Meyer range (Shirihai 2008). Discovery of a flock estimated at 100+ individuals in a bay that is the shortest straight-line distance to Mt. Agil hints that this, the tallest mountain in New Ireland and largely inaccessible, may be one breeding location (Bird 2012).  Although close to the type-locality, the Nuguria Islands seem unsuitable for burrow-nesting petrels (Shirihai 2008), while the 2007 expedition found few birds north of New Ireland and local people did not know of the species in the main island in the Feni group, the only island in this group with substantial montane forest (Shirihai 2008). Off New Ireland it rarely followed boats for long periods but appeared more tolerant of them than P. rostrata, approaching boats more closely and for longer periods (Shirihai 2008), although this should not be assumed to be a general characteristic or means of identifying the two species.

Threats
This species is potentially threatened by predation from introduced cats and rats on its unknown breeding grounds.

Conservation Actions Underway
Searches for breeding locations have taken place in southern New Ireland including liaison and outreach to local communities.
Conservation Actions Proposed
Scrutinise and photograph all P. rostrata types seen within the region and refine knowledge of at-sea identification. Survey high-altitude forest in the Hans Meyer Range in southern New Ireland to locate breeding areas in partnership with local organisations.

References
Bird, J.P. 2012. Targeted searches to identify nesting grounds of Beck"s Petrel Pseudobulweria becki. Notornis 59: 189-193.

Coates, B. J. 1985. The birds of Papua New Guinea, 1: non-passerines. Dove, Alderley, Australia.

Coates, B. J.; Swainson, G. W. 1978. Notes on the birds of Wuvulu island. Papua New Guinea Bird Society Newsletter 145: 8-10.

Murphy, R. C.; Pennoyer, J. M. 1952. Larger petrels of the genus Pterodroma. American Museum Novitates 1580.

Palliser, T. 1987. Papua New Guinea.

Richards, A.; Rowland, R. 1995. List of birds recorded in Papua New Guinea during the period 16 October to 29 November 1992. Muruk 7(2): 75-95.

Shirihai, H. 2008. Tubenoses at the Bismarck Archipelago: Surveying at sea populations of the Beck’s Petrel; in search of the Fiji-like Petrel - Expedition # 3.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Butchart, S., Dutson, G., O'Brien, A., Stattersfield, A., Symes, A., Martin, R

Contributors
Collins, C., Pym, T., Shirihai, H., Wilson, A., Bird, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Pseudobulweria becki. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/10/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/10/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Procellariidae (Petrels, Shearwaters)
Species name author (Murphy, 1928)
Population size 50-249 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 120,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species