Latin name: Pterodroma mollis

Population: The Soft-plumaged Petrel has a large global population estimated to be 60,000 individuals.

Cites classified: Least Concern (IUCN, 2008)

Where found: The Soft-plumaged Petrel breeds on islands in the Southern Hemisphere, nesting on Tristan da Cunha, Gough Island, the Prince Edward Islands, Crozet Islands and on the Antipodes Islands of New Zealand. The Soft-plumaged Petreldisperses outside the breeding season, reaching eastern South America north to Brazil, southern Africa and Australia.

Wingspan: 83-95 cm

Length: 32-37 cm

Weight: 279-312 g

Mating/Breeding: The Soft-plumaged Petrel start breeding in November/December in self-excavated burrows, on steep, well-vegetated slopes and coastal lava fields. It lays one egg, incubated for about 50 days. The chicks fledge after 90-92 days.

Eggs: White.

Hunting Habits: The Soft-plumaged Petrel take their food by surface-seizing.

Feed on: Cephalopods, some fish and crustaceans.

Threats: The Soft-plumaged Petrel are not globally threatened, but feral cats on Marion Island and rats on Possession Island take a severe toll.

Colour/Looks: The Soft-plumaged petrel is mostly dark above and white on the breast and belly. The crown, nape and upper back are usually slate-brown, as is the partial or complete collar around the upper breast. The lores, chin and throat are white. From a distance the underwings look dark, but at close range white highlights can be seen, and the upper wings are marked with a dark M like that of the prions.

Interesting Trivia:

  • The Soft-plumaged Petrel has occurred as a vagrant in Israel and Jordan.

More info:

  • Hadoram Shirihai, A complete guide to Antarctic wildlife (2002)
  • David McGonigal & Lynn Woodworth, Antarctica and the Arctic. The complete encyclopedia (2001)