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Tahiti Petrel Pseudobulweria rostrata
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species is classified as Near Threatened because, although it breeds on a relatively large number of islands, it still has a moderately small population which is declining owing to predation by introduced mammals, and, locally at least, mining.

Taxonomic source(s)
Brooke, M. de L. 2004. Albatrosses and Petrels Across the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
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.
Turbott, E. G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

Pterodroma rostrata Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Pterodroma rostrata Stotz et al. (1996)

39 cm. Medium-sized gadfly petrel. Dark brown upperparts with paler upper tail coverts. Dark brown underwing, throat, Dark brown upper chest sharply demarcated from white underparts. Similar spp. Phoenix Petrel P. alba has pale throat patch (difficult to see), lacks paler upper tail coverts, has pale line across inner underwing coverts. Hints Distinctive straight-winged jizz, held perpendicular to body with tips curling upwards. Flight more languid than many Pterodroma species, giving albatross-like appearance.

Distribution and population
Pseudobulweria rostrata breeds in the Marquesas, Society (race rostrata) and Gambier (recorded in 1995, probably rostrata [Thibault 1996, Thibault and Bretagnolle 1999]) Islands, French Polynesia, Fiji, American Samoa and New Caledonia (to France) (trouessarti). Genetic research may show that the Samoan population is genetically distinct (M. Rauzon in litt. 2003). It used to breed in Vanuatu (V. Bretagnolle and M. Pandolfi Benoit in litt. 1999) and may breed on Rarotonga, Cook Islands (Pratt et al. 1987), as well as on other islands. In the Marquesas, it breeds on Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa and Tahuata, totalling less than 500 pairs (Holyoak and Thilbault 1984), and birds have been heard at night (possibly breeding) at Ua Pou, Ua Huka (J.-C. Thibault unpublished data) and Fatu Hiva (J.-Y. Meyer unpublished data). In the Society Islands, it breeds on Tahiti and Moorea (and perhaps Bora Bora [P. Raust in litt. 1999] and Raiatea to the southeast [Salducci 2007]), where the populations were estimated at less than 1,000 pairs and several thousand pairs respectively (Holyoak and Thibault 1984), although recent visits suggest a substantial decline (Bretagnolle and J.-C. Thibault unpublished data). In the Gambiers, there are 12-26 pairs on Mangareva, Akamaru and Manui (Thibault and Bretagnolle 1999). In Fiji, it breeds on Gau and Taveuni (G. Dutson in litt. 2005), while, in American Samoa, it breeds on Ta'u and Tutuila (Engbring and Ramsay 1989). Hundreds of pairs may nest on Taveuni, where >150 were seen offshore in October 2003 and where the low open forest on steep unstable hill-sides is similar to nesting areas on New Caledonia (G. Dutson in litt. 2005). Nesting may also occur on Gau Island, where >20 individuals were seen following chumming in 2008 (Pym in litt. 2008). In New Caledonia, it breeds on Grand Terre in unknown numbers, particularly in the high mountains such as Massif du Koniambo where there are at least 200-400 pairs, and it also breeds on 11 (out of 70) islets in the southern lagoon where there are estimated to be less than 100 pairs. There are signs of a substantial decline on at least one of these islets, with 50 pairs in 1986 reduced to less than 10 pairs in 1998 (Delelis et al 2007, M. Pandolfi Benoit and V. Bretagnolle unpublished data). However, the extensive Whitney South Sea Expeditions only collected this species in French Polynesia, suggesting that the apparently large populations in New Caledonia and Fiji may have increased in the last few decades (G. Dutson in litt. 2003). In the non-breeding season it disperses widely, and birds have been recorded as far east as Peru, Mexico (Onley and Scofield 2007), and Costa Rica (Clay in litt. 2010), and as far west as the Mozambique Channel (Lambert 2004).

Population justification
The overall population of the species probably does not exceed 10,000 pairs (i.e. 20,000 mature individuals) and 30,000 individuals. It is thus placed in the band 10,000-19,999 mature individuals, and thought to number 20,000-30,000 individuals in total.

Trend justification
There are no data, however the species is thought to be declining, mainly due to nest predation by introduced predators.

Eggs are laid in burrows on rocky slopes or in open upland forest. Breeding appears to occur throughout the year, although on Tahiti at least there appears to be a peak between March and July (Villard et al. 2006). In New Caledonia, most of the recently discovered colonies are small (<10 pairs) and spread over large areas of several thousand square metres (Clunie et al. 1978).

In the Marquesas and Society Islands, rat predation is an observed but unquantified problem. It is likely to have coexisted with black rats Rattus rattus for decades and they perhaps do not pose a major threat (G. Dutson in litt. 2003). Young birds are also attracted by lights at night, mainly on Tahiti in the urban areas around Papeete (P. Raust in litt. 1999) and in New Caledonia around Noumea, rural villages and active mining sites. Electric powerlines in the mountains of French Polynesia may also be a problem (P. Raust in litt. 2003). On Grand Terre, wild pigs, feral cats and dogs, and rats Rattus spp. may pose a threat to remaining colonies (although rats have been eradicated from all islets in the southern lagoon [D. Bell and M. Pandolfi Benoit unpublished data]).The newly discovered sites in New Caledonia are all in areas threatened by nickel mining (Delelis et al 2007). In colonies where the soil is deep enough for Wedge-tailed Shearwaters to nest there can be intense competition for burrows (Villard et al. 2006). Local people are known to take birds to use their white feathers for fishing lures (Holyoak and Thibault 1984).

Conservation Actions Underway
In New Caledonia a plan to reduce the impact of mining exploitation on the Koniambo massif has been recently proposed to the KNS Mining Society. On the same island SCO has begun a campaign to collect and release birds that are desoriented by lights. In June 2007, an at sea transect from Noumea to the Chesterfield was established; repeated surveys along this line will be used to monitor long-term population trends. Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor key populations. Investigate whether the species nests on Taveuni. Quantify the levels of chick predation by black rats and other nest predators. Continue to eradicate predators from known breeding islands. Discourage the killing of birds for their feathers for fishing lures, providing white chickens as a substitute. Implement projects to tackle the threat of light pollution.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Brooke, M. De L. 2004. Albatrosses and petrels across the world. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Clunie, F.; Kinsky, C. F. C.; Jenkins, J. A. F. 1978. New bird records from the Fiji Archipelago. Notornis 25: 118-127.

Delelis, N.; Chartendrault, V.; Barré, N. 2007. Oiseaux menacés du massif de Koniambo..

Engbring, J.; Ramsey, F. L. 1989. A 1986 survey of the forest birds of American Samoa. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pagopago.

Holyoak, D. T.; Thibault, J. -C. 1984. Contribution à l'étude des oiseaux de Polynésie orientale. Memoires du Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle - Serie A: Zoologie 127: 1-209.

Lambert, K. 2004. Does the Tahiti Petrel Pseudobulweria rostrata visit the western Indian Ocean? Marine Ornithology 32: 183-184.

Onley, D.; Scofield, P. 2007. Field guide to the albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

Plant, A. R.; Qalo, K. M.; Vererusa, S.; Watling, D. 1989. A Tahiti Petrel Pseudobulweria rostrata from Gau Island, Fiji. Notornis 36: 149-150.

Pratt, H. D.; Bruner, P. L.; Berrett, D. G. 1987. A field guide to the birds of Hawaii and the tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Salducci, J.-M. 2007. Noha - Pétrel de Tahiti Pseudobulweria rostrata. Te Manu: 2.

Spaggiari J.; Barré N. 2004. Inventaire complémentaire des sites de nidification du Pétrel de Tahiti Pseudobulweria rostrata trouessarti sur le massif du Koniambo.

Thibault, J.-C. 1996. Etat de l'avifaune des iles Gambier, Hiver austral 1996.

Thibault, J.-C.; Bretagnolle, V. 1999. Breeding seabirds of Gambier Islands, Eastern Polynesia: numbers and changes during the 20th century. Emu 99: 100-107.

Villard, P.; Dano, S.; Bretagnolle, V. 2006. Morphometrics and the breeding biology of the Tahiti Petrel Pseudobuleria rostrata. Ibis 148: 285-291.

Further web sources of information
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Text account compilers
Anderson, O., Benstead, P., Calvert, R., Mahood, S., McClellan, R., O'Brien, A., Stattersfield, A. & Temple, H.

Barré, N., Bell, D., Bretagnolle, V., Dutson, G., Kretzschmar, J., Meyer, J., Pandolfi, M., Raust, P., Rauzon, M., Spaggiari, J. & Thibault, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Pseudobulweria rostrata. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Tahiti petrel (Pseudobulweria rostrata) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Procellariidae (Petrels, Shearwaters)
Species name author (Peale, 1848)
Population size 10000-19999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 49,600,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species