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Providence Petrel Pterodroma solandri
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species qualifies as Vulnerable because it has a very small range, being confined to one very small island and one tiny islet, 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.

40 cm. Medium-sized, all-dark gadfly petrel. Uniform, fairly dark grey-brown with extensive whitish scaling around face and on chin, and white skua-like base to primaries on underwing. Sexually dimorphic. Males larger with significantly longer culmen (Bester et al. in press). Similar spp. Relatively long, wedge-shaped tail useful character when visible. Murphy's Petrel P. ultima has more slender bill, whiter throat, and stronger traces of "M" pattern on upperwing. Even darkest Kermadec Petrel P. neglecta has white primary shafts on upperwing. Grey-faced Petrel P. macroptera gouldi has similar face pattern, but is darker.

Distribution and population
Pterodroma solandri breeds in the southern section of Lord Howe Island (Australia), and on Phillip Island, Norfolk Island (to Australia). It was exterminated on Norfolk Island itself between 1790 and 1800, where it was once considered numerous. One million adults and young were harvested for food from 1790-1793 and numbers dropped to 15,000 by 1796, with complete extermination by 1800 (Priddel et al. 2010). The population on Lord Howe Island was estimated at 20,000 breeding pairs in the 1970s (Fullagar et al. 1974), however a more comprehensive survey during the 2002 breeding season estimated the population at just over 32,000 breeding pairs (Bester 2003). Surveys also determined that its distribution has likely increased since the eradication of pigs on Lord Howe Island and it appears to be establishing itself in the lower elevations south of Mt Lidgbird (Bester 2003). The Phillip Island population was discovered in 1985 and numbered at least 20 birds, with current estimates of 10-100 pairs (Priddel et al. 2010). Pigs, goats and rabbits all impacted Phillip Island, mainly through removal of vegetation causing large-scale soil erosion, until all were eradicated by the 1980’s, since when vegetation has increased (Priddel et al. 2010). Its non-breeding distribution is across the western Tasman Sea with some dispersing to the north and northwest Pacific Ocean perhaps as far north as the Bering Sea (Nakamura and Tanaka 1977, Cheshire and Jenkins 1981, Tanaka 1986, Marchant and Higgins 1990, J. Hobbs in litt. 2009).

Population justification
The population has been estimated at 100,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Surveys have determined that the species's distribution is likely to have increased since the eradication of pigs on Lord Howe Island and it appears to be establishing itself in the lower elevations south of Mt Lidgbird (Bester 2003).

It nests in burrows or under rock cavities and occasionally between tree buttresses from sea level to 900 m (Bester et al. 2002, Bester 2003). On Lord Howe, it breeds in forest, as once did the population of Norfolk Island, so the Phillip Island population is atypical, burrows being in eroded cliffs of soft volcanic tuff (Priddel et al. 2010). It is a winter breeder, with birds from Phillip Island breeding at the same time as Lord Howe Island (Priddel et al. 2010). Adults arrive at Phillip from mid-April (Priddel et al. 2010), a single egg layed mid- to late May (Bester et al. 2007), hatching starts mid-July (Bester et al. 2007) and chicks near-fledged by early November (Priddel et al. 2010). Adults land during daylight, often about 1530 h (Priddel et al. 2010). A study on Lord Howe Island, 2000-2001, determined 54% breeding success in burrows visited twice and contents not handled, with 34-36% success in burrows repeatedly visited (Bester et al. 2007). Nests closest to burrow entrances had lowest breeding success, with the main causes of failure being flooding and predation of eggs and chicks by the endemic, threatened Lord Howe Rail Gallirallus sylvestris (Bester et al. 2007). It predominantly takes squid and fish with crustaceans less important. The most important prey item is bioluminescent fish from the genus Electrona; maximum diving depths have been recorded at 5 m (Bester 2003). It also scavenges for food taking fish offal and has been recorded scavenging on a Shining Bronze-cuckoo Chrysoccyx basilis (Bester 2003). It only occasionally follows fishing boats (Kuroda 1955, Bester 2003) but some fishing material has been reported in their diet (Bester 2003).

On Norfolk Island, its demise was due to hunting and introduced species (Whitley 1934, Marchant and Higgins 1990). The presence of cats and rats on Norfolk Island continues to limit re-establishment (Holdaway 1999, S. Garnett in litt. 2006). On Lord Howe Island, it has withstood the introductions of pigs, cats, goats, black rat Rattus rattus and Masked Owl Tyto novaehollandiae castaneothorax, the latter introduced in the 1920s in an attempt to control rats (Bester et al. 2007). Pigs were eradicated from Lord Howe in 1981, where they had greatly reduced the lowland colonies (Bester et al. 2007). The extent of impact of the remaining introduced species is unknown, although rat predation did account for a small proportion of breeding failures on Lord Howe (Bester et al. 2007). The low scale of impact may result from rountine rat control on parts of Lord Howe, reducing their potential impact (Bester et al. 2007). Support for this theory comes from the high rates of rat predation on Whale Island, New Zealand in years when no control was done (Bester et al. 2007). . The main causes of death on Lord Howe Island are predation by the threatened Lord Howe Rail Gallirallus sylvestris and flooding of burrows (Bester et al. 2007). The endemic Lord How pied currawong Strepera graculina crissalis is also known to kill chicks (Bester et al. 2007). On Phillip Island, competition for burrows from wedge-tailed shearwaters Puffinus pacificus poses a serious threat, with chicks being killed or ejected from burrows (Priddel et al. 2010). . Rat predation of eggs and chicks was not considered a problem during the 2001 and 2002 breeding seasons (Bester 2003). It also risks death from drowning in longline fishing gear, but this cause of mortality is unlikely to be significant (Bester 2003). Diet samples have contained traces of plastic; however, no obvious adverse affects have been detected (Bester 2003).

Conservation Actions Underway
The Lord Howe Island group was designated a World Heritage Site in 1982. The control of rats has been taking place on Norfolk Island, however in 2006, the control measures were noted to be budget-constrained and limited in effectiveness (S. Garnett in litt. 2006). A rat control program is also ongoing on parts of Lord Howe Island (Bester et al. 2007). In 2006, a proposal was submitted to eradicate all mammalian predators from all, or at least a significant part, of Norfolk Island (Holdaway 1999). Such measures might involve the establishment of an exclosure in the National Park in which all mammals are eliminated, and where chicks are translocated (Holdaway 1999, S. Garnett in litt. 2006). Conservation Actions Proposed
Census the Lord Howe Island population at least once every five years, and the Phillip Island population every three years. Monitor breeding success on a 1-3 year basis. Eradicate cats and rat species from Norfolk Island (Holdaway 1999), or at least establish an exclusion area (Holdaway 1999, S. Garnett in litt. 2006). Consider translocation of chicks (Holdaway 1999, S. Garnett in litt. 2006). Implement bird-safe fishing practices in the Pacific Ocean fleet. Impose strict quarantine procedures on any vessels visiting Phillip Island and Lord Howe Island.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Bester, A. 2003. The breeding, foraging and conservation of the Providence Petrel Pterodroma solandri breeding on Lord Howe Island, Australia.

Bester, A. J.; Priddel, D.; Klomp, N. I.; Carlile, N.; O'Neill, L. E. 2007. Reproductive success of the Providence Petrel Pterodroma solandri on Lord Howe Island, Australia. Marine Ornithology 35: 21-28.

Bester, A.; Klomp, N.; Priddel, D.; Carlile, N. 2002. Chick-provisioning behaviour of the Providence petrel, Pterodroma solandri. Emu 102: 297-303.

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

Cheshire, N.; Jenkins, J. 1981. Sightings of the Providence Petrel P.solandri. Australasian Seabird Group Newsletter 15: 7-8.

Fullagar, P. J.; McKean, J. L.; Van Tets, G. F. 1974. Appendix F, report on the birds. In: Recher, H.F.; Clark, S.S. (ed.), Environmental survey of Lord Howe Island, pp. 55-72. AGP, Sydney.

Garnett, S. T.; Crowley, G. M. 2000. The action plan for Australian birds 2000. Environment Australia, Canberra.

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.

Kuroda, N. 1955. Observation of pelagic birds of the Northwest Pacific. Condor 57: 290-300.

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

Nakamura, K.; Tanaka, Y. 1977. Distribution and migration of two species of the genus Pterodroma in the North Pacific. Journal of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology 9(1): 112-119.

Priddel, D.; Carlile, N.; Evans, O.; Evans, B.; McCoy, H. 2010. A review of the seabirds of Phillip Island in the Norfolk Island group. Notornis 57(3): 113-127.

Tanaka, Y. 1986. Distribution and migration of the Solander's Petrel Pterodroma solandri in the North Pacific in relation to sea surface water temperatures. Journal of the Yamashina Institute for Ornithology 18: 55-62.

Whitley, G. 1934. The doom of the Bird of Providence, Pterodroma melanopus (Gmelin). Australian Zoologist 8: 42-49.

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., Garnett, S., McClellan, R., Stattersfield, A., Taylor, J.

Garnett, S.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Pterodroma solandri. 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 - Providence petrel (Pterodroma solandri) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Procellariidae (Petrels, Shearwaters)
Species name author (Gould, 1844)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 43,100,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species