Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Procellariiformes Procellariidae

Scientific Name: Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi (Gray, 1860)
Common Name(s):
English Fiji Petrel, MacGillivray's Petrel
Spanish Petrel de las Fijii
Pterodroma macgillivrayi ssp. macgillivrayi (Gray, 1860) — Collar and Andrew (1988)
Pterodroma macgillivrayi ssp. macgillivrayi (Gray, 1860) — Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)
Pterodroma macgillivrayi ssp. macgillivrayi (Gray, 1860) — Collar et al. (1994)
Thalassidroma macgillivrayi Gray, 1860
Taxonomic Source(s): Brooke, M. de L. 2004. Albatrosses and Petrels Across the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Identification information: 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.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered C2a(i,ii);D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Carlile, N., Dutson, G., Millett, J. & Watling, D.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Bird, J., Calvert, R., Derhé, M., Lascelles, B., Martin, R, Moreno, R., O'Brien, A., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A., Symes, A., Temple, H.
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.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

This species was previously known from just one immature specimen collected in 1855 on Gau Island, Fiji, but between 1983-2012 there were a total of 21 reports of grounded birds on Gau (Priddel et al. 2008, Shirihai et al. 2009, E. O’ Connor in litt. 2012). 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. 2008, 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).

Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:27Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:165000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:1Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The remaining population is assumed to be tiny (perhaps fewer than 50 individuals and mature individuals) based on paucity of recent records (although these include 21 since 1983; Priddel et al. 2008, O’Connor in litt. 2012).

Trend Justification:  Population trend is unknown but it may well be declining owing to effects of rats, cats and feral pigs on Gau Island.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:1-49Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:1Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:Yes
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation:100

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is likely to breed 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. 2009).

Systems:Terrestrial; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):15
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The servicing of a 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). Light-induced mortality is a potential threat (Carboneras et al. 2014). 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 [top]

Conservation Actions:

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 Department of Environment and Conservation 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 Department of Environment and Conservation 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. 2008, 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 was also collected on the extent of feral pigs on Gau (O'Conner in litt. 2010-2012). 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 43 active Collared Petrel nests (O’Brien et al. 2016). The burrow detector dogs have been aided in their searches for nesting Fiji Petrels by using scent for the feathers of 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. 2009), along with grants from the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and the BirdLife International Community Conservation Fund. In 2012 a young Fiji Petrel was found in Nukuloa, a recording was made of its call (Carlile et al. in prep) and this is now broadcast at a predator-free site to attract other Fiji Petrels (Fiji Petrel Campaign Team 2014). Burrow nest boxes (Priddel and Carlile 1994) have also been installed at the site.

Conservation Actions Proposed

On Gau, continue to conduct surveys employing petrel specialists and using spotlighting, radio-tracking (of birds caught locally at-sea) and trained wildlife searching sniffer dogs (SPREP 2000, Priddel et al. 2008. Birdlife International 2016). Develop and support 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. 2008.). Assess the breeding success and threats to P. brevipes. Survey seas off other suitable islands. Nature Fiji-Mareqeti Viti plans to protect Fiji Petrel breeding sites from rats, cats and mongooses (Susu 2015).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22697935A93647761. . Downloaded on 26 September 2018.
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