This species is classified as Critically Endangered because, given the paucity of recent records, it is estimated that there is only a tiny population which is confined to a very small breeding area. Furthermore, it is assumed to be declining because of predation by cats, rats and potentially by feral pigs, which may therefore threaten its long-term survival.
Brooke, M. De L. 2004. Albatrosses and petrels across the world. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Pterodroma macgillivrayi Collar and Andrew (1988), Pterodroma macgillivrayi Collar et al. (1994), Pterodroma macgillivrayi Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Pterodroma macgillivrayi macgillivrayi Collar and Andrew (1988), Pterodroma macgillivrayi macgillivrayi Collar et al. (1994), Pterodroma macgillivrayi macgillivrayi Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)
Distribution and population
30 cm. Small, dark gadfly petrel. Dark chocolate-brown all over, perhaps darker around face. Black bill, dark eye. Pale washed-out blue tarsi. Mostly black feet with pale blue patch on centre of inner web. Similar spp. Size and colour may cause confusion with Black Noddy Anous minutus and Brown Noddy A. stolidus, but it lacks white cap and has characteristic petrel flight. Difficult to distinguish from Kiritimati (Christmas) Shearwater Puffinus nativitatis, Mascarene Petrel Pseudobulweria aterrima, Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii and Jouanin's Petrel B.fallax (BirdLife International 2008). Hints May be seen in waters around Gau Island but believed to disperse to pelagic waters far from the island.
This species was previously known from just one immature specimen collected in 1855 on Gau Island, Fiji
, but between 1984-2007 there were a total of 17 reports of grounded birds on Gau (Priddel et al.
2008, Shirihai et al.
2009). Most records relate to immature birds that have landed on the roofs of houses in Nawaikama, Levukaigua or Nukuloa villages, a number of which have died, and four specimens have been obtained from these fatalities (Watling 2000, Priddel et al
. in prep., Shirihai et al.
2009). One further confirmed sighting concerns a bird that landed in Levuka village in April 2007 (Priddel et al
. in prep.). At sea, the only unequivocal sightings of the Fiji Petrel have been off Gau in May and October 2009 (a maximum of three birds together) (Shirihai et al.
2009, Kretzchmar et al.
2009). It may occur on other islands in the vicinity, e.g. Taveuni (D. Watling verbally 2000). The population size remains unknown but it is speculated that it may be as low as <50 pairs (Shirihai et al.
2009). Population justification
The remaining population is assumed to be tiny (fewer than 50 individuals and mature individuals) based on paucity of recent records (although these include eight since 1983).Trend justification
Population trend is unknown but it may well be declining owing to effects of rats, cats and feral pigs on Gau Island.Ecology
It is likely to breed amongst large numbers of Collared Petrel in the rugged terrain of interior Gau (where over 70 km2
of suitable forest exists up to 715 m) (Watling and Lewanavanua 1985). There have been speculations concerning the length and timing of the breeding season (Kretzchmar et al.
2009), however conclusive data remains to be found; it is possible that the breeding season is protracted through most of the year with two peaks in activity (April-July and October-January) (Shirihai et al.
The servicing of a recently constructed telecommunications transmitter on the summit of Gau may facilitate the movement of feral cats Felis catus
and rats Rattus sp.
to the breeding area (Watling 2000), thereby increasing predation. Although Collared Petrel seems to nest successfully (and its seasonal breeding in the first half of the year may swamp cat predation), it is possible that Fiji Petrel has a more prolonged breeding season later in the year, and it could therefore suffer disproportionately (Watling and Lewanavanua 1985). A recent survey found Pacific rats Rattus exulans
in all major habitats on Gau, while Rattus rattus
has so far only been found in and around villages (O'Conner 2010). Feral pigs Sus domesticus
have recently become established in the forests of Gau and they may represent a serious additional threat (Priddel and Carlile 2004). Fiji Petrels are attracted to 'chum' and long-lining may pose a further threat: several Tahiti Petrels and a Kermadec Petrel with damaged wings, perhaps caused by entanglement with long-lines, were observed off Gau in 2009 (Shirihai et al.
2009). Having a distribution on relatively low-lying islands, this species is potentially susceptible to climate change through sea-level rise and shifts in suitable climatic conditions (BirdLife International unpublished data). Conservation Actions Underway
The rarity and significance of this species has been promoted to local residents and it is featured on a Fijian bank note. It is protected under Fijian law. Repeated surveys in the 1980s attempting to find evidence of breeding failed and no further work was undertaken for 10 years. In 2003, a Recovery Plan for the Fiji Petrel was drawn up with the assistance of the National Parks and Wildlife Dept. of New South Wales. In 2004, the National Trust of Fiji initiated a year-long community awareness programme on the island in association with RARE, and together with the National Parks and Wildlife Dept. of New South Wales initiated a community-based awareness project to procure more information from grounded birds, together with an initiative to protect the Gau highlands where the petrel is believed to nest. Data from landed petrels have been collected in 2005, 2007 and 2009
(D. Watling in litt.
2005, Priddel et al
. in prep., Shirihai et al.
2009). The most urgent priority remains locating the breeding grounds. A comprehensive scientific review of the Fiji Petrel and its conservation has been undertaken and recently published
(BirdLife International 2008)
As part of BirdLife's Preventing Extinctions programme NatureFiji-MareqetiViti have taken on the role of Species Guardian and are implementing the following actions: three full time staff, including a Project Officer, as well as many part time field assistants, are based on the island charged with implementing activities identified in the Fiji Petrel Recovery Plan; welfare and release procedures for grounded birds and the development of local expertise in the collection of scientific data following such incidents; initiation of feral pig control; nocturnal "listening" for Fiji Petrels over the new moon periods with playback of Tahiti and Mascarene Petrel calls; spotlighting and cold searches for nesting burrows; radio-telemetry to follow birds to burrows; and burrow examination using a burrow-scope. NFMV has just conducted the first systematic survey of rats in three different habitats on Gau Island and will be undertaking further surveys to confirm and extend the current investigation to gauge the potential threats of invasive rats to the Fiji Petrel. Data is also being collected on the extent of feral pigs on Gau
. Two petrel burrow detector dogs have been trained in New Zealand and have been working full time on Gau since July 2011 and have to date located two Collared Petrel nests. It is planned that they will search for nesting Fiji Petrels using feathers from a dead specimen. NatureFiji-MareqetiViti have received a significant grant from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund to enable this work to be undertaken
(D. Watling in litt.
, along with grants from the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and the BirdLife International Community Conservation Fund. Conservation Actions Proposed
On Gau, conduct surveys employing petrel specialists and using spotlighting, radio-tracking and trained wildlife searching sniffer dogs (SPREP 2000, Priddel et al
. in prep.). Develop local expertise to assist with, or carry out, surveys (SPREP 2000). Continue to raise awareness on Gau, and put in place a process for rapid alert to and acquisition of any grounded birds (Priddel et al
. in prep.). Assess the breeding success and threats to P. brevipes
. Survey seas off other suitable islands.
BirdLife International. 2008. Species Guardian Action Update: November 2008 - Fiji Petrel Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi. Available at: #http://www.birdlife.org/extinction/pdfs/Fiji_Petrel_Guardian_Action_Update_Nov08.pdf#.
Priddel, C.; Carlile, N. 2004. South Pacific: spotlight on the Fiji Petrel, a rare bird indeed! Wildlife Conservation 107: 6-7.
Priddel, D.; Carlile, N.; Kolinio, M.; Watling, D. in prep. A review of records and recovery actions for the critically endangered Fiji Petrel Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi.
Priddel, D.; Carlile, N.; Moce, K.; Watling, D. 2008. A review of records and recovery actions for the 'Critically endangered' Fiji Petrel, Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi. Bird Conservation International 18(4): 381-393.
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.
Shirihai, H.; Pym, T.; Kretzschmar, J.; Moce, K.; Taukei, A.; Watling, D. 2009. First observations of Fiji Petrel Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi at sea: off Gau Island, Fiji, in May 2009. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 129(3): 129-148.
SPREP. 2000. Proceedings of the Melanesian Avifauna Conservation Workshop, Nadi, Fiji, 5-10 March, 2000.
Watling, D. 2000. Conservation status of Fijian birds. Technical Group 2 Report - Fiji Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.
Watling, D.; Lewanavanua, R. F. 1985. A note to record the continuing survival of the Fiji (MacGillivray's) Petrel Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi. Ibis 127: 230-233.
Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.
Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)
Species Guardian Action Update
View photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection
Text account compilers
Bird, J., Calvert, R., Derh, M., Lascelles, B., O'Brien, A., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A., Symes, A., Temple, H., Martin, R
Dutson, G., Millett, J., Watling, D.
BirdLife International (2013) Species factsheet: Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 12/12/2013.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2013) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 12/12/2013.
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