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White-necked Petrel Pterodroma cervicalis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it has a very small range, on two or three very small islands, and it is therefore susceptible to stochastic events and human impacts.

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.

Taxonomic note
Pterodroma cervicalis (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993, Brooks 2004) was split into P. cervicalis and P. occulta by Imber and Tennyson (2001) and Christidis and Boles (2008), largely on the basis of the latter's smaller size and relative

43 cm. Large, grey-and-white petrel with distinctive white hindneck. Black cap extends to below eyes. White band extends from throat around hindneck. Grey upperparts, upperwing, with black "M" across wings. May have grey half-collar across upper breast. White underparts. White underwing with narrow, black trailing edge, black tip, wider black leading edge distal to carpal joint, short, bolder black bar extending towards centre of wing from joint. Similar spp. Distinguished from Juan Fernandez Petrel P. externa by stronger cap contrast, bolder black marking at leading edge of underwing distal to carpal joint. P. externa has grey nape, but some individuals become almost as white-necked as P. cervicalis.

Distribution and population
Pterodroma cervicalis breeds on Macauley Island in the Kermadec Islands, New Zealand (c.50,000 pairs in 1988, possibly increasing), with a second small colony recently established on Phillip Island, off Norfolk Island (to Australia) with nests increasing from six in 1994 to 20 in 2005 (Priddel et al. 2010). It bred on Raoul Island, also in the Kermadec Islands, early in the 20th century (Taylor 2000). The rare subspecies occulta breeds in small numbers on Vanua Lava, Vanuatu (Totterman 2009). It migrates to the tropical and sub-tropical north and southwest Pacific Ocean (Heather and Robertson 1997, J. Hobbs in litt. 2009), with a recent sighting off Gau Island, Fiji (Pym in litt. 2008). In February 2010, the rare sub-species P. occulta was photographed, 60 miles from the site of the original specimens, and only the second documented sighting since 1927; a total of 21 individuals were sighted over a three-day period, nine seen rafting before dusk (P. Harrison in litt. 2010).

Population justification
The total population has been estimated at c.100,000 mature individuals, roughly equivalent to 150,000 total individuals.

Trend justification
The population is thought to be increasing (Brooke 2004).

On Macauley Island it nests in burrows, generally on high, gently sloping areas with sedges and grass. On Raoul, it nested below 300 m on high-altitude ridges (Marchant and Higgins 1990). On Phillip Island, it is a summer breeder, birds coming ashore as early as 11 November, but laying in January (Priddel et al. 2010), differing from the Macauley population by nesting among boulders and in crevices in rocky habitat with sparse understorey, below a canopy of mature white oaks that provide concealment from avian predators (Priddel et al. 2010). It has also been known to nest in artificial cavities. On Phillip, the only known nests are at the top of Long Valley, but other areas have potential nest sites (Priddel et al. 2010). It feeds mainly on squid (Heather and Robertson 1997). Little is known of the breeding biology.

The population on Raoul was probably destroyed by feral cats and brown rat Rattus norvegicus (Taylor 2000). The Pacific rat R. exulans was formerly present on Macauley (eradicated in 2006), but does not apparently attack eggs or chicks (Marchant and Higgins 1990). Feral goats were present on both Raoul and Macauley and trampled burrows. Rabbits were formerly present on Phillip, and extensive grazing and burrowing caused large-scale erosion (Taylor 2000). It remains vulnerable to the introduction of further mammalian predators, and also to fire and disturbance by visitors (Marchant and Higgins 1990). The most recent visits to Macauley Island indicate that a dense successional stage of fern-dominated vegetation appears to be displacing the species from some colonies; however, population level impacts are not currently known (G. Taylor in litt. 2012). The species is potentially threatened by climate change because it has a geographically bounded distribution: it is restricted to an island or islands with a maximum altitude of 238 m (BirdLife International unpublished data).

Conservation Actions Underway
Goats were removed from Raoul and Macauley in 1984 and 1970, respectively. The eradication of rabbits from Phillip in 1985 may have resulted in the species colonising the island in the following years. Pacific rates were eradicated from Macauley in 2006 and cats and rats were eradicated from Raoul Island between 2002 and 2006 (G. Taylor in litt. 2012). Since 2009, automated sound attraction units have been installed on Raoul Island in an attempt to lure the species, although there is no evidence so far that this has worked (G. Taylor in litt. 2012). A study area on Macauley was established in 1988 (G. Taylor in litt. 1999). The Kermadec Islands are nature reserves with access by permit only. Extensive searches were conducted for incubating birds of this species in the upper reaches of Long Valley, the main water catchment of Phillip Island (N. Carlile in litt. 2012).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Map populations on Macauley Island and complete a census. Monitor Macauley every five years to ensure that no establishment of predators has occurred. Monitor the recovery of vegetation on Macauley and any negative effects on the species. Recapture birds in study area to determine data on survival and longevity every five years. Re-establish colony on Raoul (Taylor 2000). Survey Vanua Lava and assess threats.

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

Heather, B. D.; Robertson, H. A. 1997. The field guide to the birds of New Zealand. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Imber, M. J.; Tennyson, A. J. D. 2001. A new petrel species (Procellariidae) from the south-west Pacific. Emu 101: 123-127.

Marchant, S.; Higgins, P. J. 1990. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds, 1: ratites to ducks. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Taylor, G. A. 2000. Action plan for seabird conservation in New Zealand. Department of Conservation, Wellington.

Totterman, S. 2009. Vanuatu Petrel (Pterodroma occulta) discovered breeding on Vanua Lava, Banks Islands, Vanuatu. Notornis 56(2): 57-62.

Further web sources of information
Australian Govt - Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 - Recovery Outline

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., Calvert, R., McClellan, R., Taylor, J., Temple, H.

Carlile, N., Garnett, S., MacAllan, I., Taylor, G., Tennyson, A.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Pterodroma cervicalis. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

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 - White-necked petrel (Pterodroma cervicalis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Procellariidae (Petrels, Shearwaters)
Species name author (Salvin, 1891)
Population size 100000 mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 67,200,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species