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New Zealand Storm-petrel Fregetta maoriana
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Previously assumed to have been Extinct following the lack of records since three specimens were collected in the 1800s, this species was spectacularly rediscovered in 2003, with multiple annual records subsequently. Although there is very little information on which to base an assessment, the species has been precautionarily classified as Critically Endangered on the basis of an extremely small population which could be susceptible to the impacts of introduced predators. Further observations and information may well lead to a revision of the criteria triggered, and possibly the category to which it is assigned.

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.

Taxonomic note
Fregretta maoriana endemic to New Zealand (Brooke 2004), was not listed by Turbott (1990) as it was previously believed to be extinct. Fregetta maoriana (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Oceanites as O. maorianus following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).

Oceanites maorianus (Mathews, 1932)

17 cm. A medium-sized storm petrel with noticeably large head, long legs and long feet, the latter projecting well beyond the square tail. Head, neck and upperparts blackish-brown except for pale carpal bar, white rump and uppertail coverts. Breast blackish-brown grading into blackish streaks on white belly, flanks and undertail coverts, but the amount of streaking highly variable. On the dark underwing, there is a pale central patch. Bill, eye, legs and feet black. Toes extend well beyond the tail in flight, which is swift-like with alternating flapping and glides. Similar spp. Black-bellied Storm Petrel Fregatta tropica, much larger, lacks the streaked flanks, generally has a black belly stripe and has broader, more rounded wings. White-bellied Storm Petrel Fregetta grallaria lacks any streaking on the normally white upper breast and belly (some populations have dark bellied forms) and also has broader, more rounded wings, and toes do not project beyond tail. Wilson's Storm Petrel Oceanites oceanicus is all dark ventrally, but does have a similar, but not the same, flight progression.

Distribution and population
Fregetta maoriana was known only from putative fossil material (Holdaway 1999), and from three specimens collected in the 19th century, two from the East Coast of the North Island New Zealand (Bourne et al. 2004), and one of unknown provenance, but suggested to be Banks Peninsula, South Island (Medway et al. 2004). However, one individual was observed and photographed off the Mercury Islands, North Island in January 2003 (Saville et al. 2003), and subsequently a flock of 10-20 was observed and photographed north of Little Barrier Island, North Island in November 2003 (Flood 2003). Since then birds have been observed in the Hauraki Gulf each summer (October to April) (Gaskin and Baird 2005). A review of previous petrel sightings and specimens suggests the New Zealand Storm-petrel may have been present in the Hauraki Gulf for at least the past four decades (Stephenson et al. 2008). A programme of at-sea capture begun in 2005 culminated in the discovery of breeding burrows on Little Barrier Island in February 2013, following the capture of 31 individuals, DNA analysis, monitoring of breeding condition of individuals, and deployment of tracking devices (Anon. 2006, Stephenson 2006a,b, Stephenson 2008, Gaskin 2013). Up to three were reported on pelagic trips off New South Wales, Australia in March and April 2010 (Ramsay 2010).

Population justification
The population is assumed to be tiny (fewer than 50 individuals and mature individuals) based on the small number of records since 2003. Most have been of small numbers, but flocks of 10-20, 11 and 10-30 birds have been recorded.

Trend justification
The population may well be decreasing owing to the impacts of alien invasive predators on other, as yet undiscovered, breeding grounds.

The species seems to occupy warmer waters which move into the Hauraki Gulf during summer. It probably feeds on small crustaceans and plankton associated with this water, and it is readily attracted to chum slicks (Gaskin and Baird 2005). The breeding season is possibly late November (egg-laying) through to May (fledging). Nesting burrows are crevice-like in crumbly, rocky, litter-covered ground under forest, and contained downy chicks expected to fledge in late May or June (Gaskin 2013). It is thought to be migratory owing to its absence from Hauraki Gulf from June to September each year (Gaskin and Baird 2005).

No immediate threats are known, but the species could conceivably be impacted by introduced predators.

Conservation Actions Underway
The species may have already benefited from rat-eradication programmes on offshore islands. Several islands in the Mokohinau Group which lies north-west of Great Barrier Island support suitable, rat-free, habitat (Fjeldså and Kirwan 2014). In the summer of 2005-2006, four birds were captured, and attempts made to follow them to their breeding grounds with the aid of radio telemetry. This was unsuccessful, and further attempts to capture birds in November and December 2006 failed (Anon. 2006, Stephenson 2006a,b). Three birds captured in October-November 2007 were not fitted with transmitters as they did not appear to be in breeding condition (Stephenson 2008). Location of the breeding grounds finally occurred in February 2013 (Gaskin 2013).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue on-going work to clarify the taxonomic position of this taxon. Carry out further surveys at sea in the vicinity of the recent observations and elsewhere, and continue searches for the breeding grounds, adopting a variety of suitable methods. If it is found to breed on an island with introduced predators, eradicate these as an urgent priority.

Anon. 2006. New Zealand Storm-petrel - in the hand! Birding World 19: 44.

Bourne, W. R. P.; Jouanin, C. 2004. The origin of specimens of New Zealand Storm Petrel (Paeleornis maoriana Mathews, 1932). Notornis: 57-58.

Bourne, W. R. P.; Jouanin, C.; Catto, J. V. F. 2004. The original specimens of the New Zealand Storm-petrel. Notornis 51: 191.

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. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.

Fjeldså, J. and Kirwan, G.M. 2014. New Zealand Storm-petrel (Fregetta maoriana). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Flood, B. 2003. The New Zealand storm-petrel is not extinct. Birding World 16(11): 479-482.

Gaskin, C.; Baird, K. 2005. Observations of black and white storm petrels in the Hauraki Gulf, November 2003 - June 2005: were they of New Zealand Storm Petrels? Notornis 52(4): 181-194.

Gaskin, C.P. 2013. New Zealand storm petrel. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.). Available at:

Holdaway, R. N. 1999. Introduced predators and avifaunal extinction in New Zealand. In: MacPhee, R.D.E. (ed.), Extinctions in near time: causes, contexts and consequences, pp. 189-238. Plenum Press, New York.

Howell, S. N. G.; Collins, C. 2008. A possible New Zealand Storm Petrel off New Caledonia, southwest Pacific. Birding World 21(5): 207-209.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Medway, D. G. 2004. The place of collection of the original specimens of Pealeornis maoriana Mathews, 1932. Notornis 51: 58-59.

Oliver, W. R. B. 1955. New Zealand birds. Reed, Wellington, New Zealand.

Saville, S., Stephenson, B., Southey, I. 2003. A possible sighting of an 'extinct' bird - the New Zealand storm-petrel. Birding World 16(4): 173-175.

Sibley, C.G. and Monroe, B.L. 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Sibley, C.G. and Monroe, B.L. 1993. A supplement to 'Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World'. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Stephenson, B. 2006. First transmitters fitted to New Zealand Storm Petrels. Southern Bird: 8-9.

Stephenson, B. 2006. New Zealand Storm-petrels captured in the Hauraki Gulf. Forest and Bird 319: 7.

Stephenson, B. 2008. Ghost birds. Forest and Bird: 38-39.

Stephenson, B. M.; Flood, R.; Thomas, B.; Saville, S. 2008. Rediscovery of the New Zealand Storm Petrel (Pealeornis maoriana Mathews 1932): two sightings that revised our knowledge of storm petrels. Notornis 55(2): 77-83.

Turbott, E.G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

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
Anderson, O., Benstead, P., Bird, J., Brooks, T., Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Lascelles, B., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Martin, R & Ashpole, J

Baird, K., Gaskin, C., Hitchmough, R., Saville, S., Scofield, P., Stahl, J.-C., Stephenson, B., Szabo, M. & Weeber, B.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Fregetta maoriana. 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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Oceanitidae (Southern Storm-petrels)
Species name author (Mathews, 1932)
Population size 1-49 mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 14 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species