Vanuatu Petrel

Scientific Name
Pterodroma occulta
Conservation Status
Not Recognized (NR)

Recent Nearby Sightings

Wikipedia Article

Vanuatu Petrel or Falla's Petrel, Pterodroma occulta is a species of gadfly petrel. This little-known seabird was first scientifically described in 2001 based on six specimens taken in 1927 off Mere Lava, Vanuatu, and a single found ashore in 1983 in New South Wales, Australia. The first confirmed breeding locality was only discovered in 2009 on the island of Vanua Lava, Vanuatu, but based on reports by locals it likely also breeds on Mere Lava. The IUCN have not recognized the Vanuatu Petrel as a species, but maintain it as a subspecies of the very similar White-necked Petrel, P. cervicalis, with the "combined" species considered Vulnerable. The alternate name commemorates Robert Alexander Falla, a New Zealand ornithologist.
This species resembles the White-necked Petrel, but is slightly smaller at in length and in weight. It has a black cap, white rear neck, dark grey back, wings and tail, and a darker rump. The underparts are white with dark bases to the primary feathers. Like White-necked, the upperparts of worn birds become darker. It is very difficult to separate Vanuatu Petrel from White-necked Petrel at sea.
This is a solitary pelagic species of the open seas of the southwest Pacific. It has an effortless graceful flight with few wing beats, and does not follow ships. It feeds on the wing, picking fish and squid from near the surface.