Mount Pit Petrel (Pterodroma phillipii)

Taxonomy


Pterodroma phillipii (Gray) Mount Pit Petrel, also known as Norfolk Island Petrel [Phillip 1789, Voyage to Botany Bay, p. 161 and plate. Procellaria phillipii G.R.Gray 1862, Ibis, p. 246. (Norfolk Island).] Named after Mount Pit, which overlooks Sydney Harbor on Norfolk Island.

 

Identification


Poorly known. Thought to be related to Solander's Petrel. Phillip described his "Norfolk Island Petrel" as 15 inches long, the bill one and a half inches, black and very hooked. The bird was sooty brown above, and ash-coloured below, the face and throat "waved, brown and dusky white" (which means dirty white with the feathers edged with brown: this is confirmed by the accompanying plate). The inner parts of the quills were pale, the wings when closed extended about an inch beyond the tail. The legs were yellow, the outer toe completely black, the middle one black on the outer half, the inner toe black on the outer third only.
 

Where and When

Norfolk Island. Probably exterminated at the end of the eighteenth century by Royal Marines and other sailors stationed on the island. Hundreds of thousands of petrels were slaughtered for food in just a few months.
 

Literature

 

Copyright © 2003 All rights reserved. Angus Wilson
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