Fregetta maoriana 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Procellariiformes Oceanitidae

Scientific Name: Fregetta maoriana (Mathews, 1932)
Common Name(s):
English New Zealand Storm-petrel , New Zealand Storm Petrel
Spanish Paíño de Nueva Zelanda
Oceanites maorianus Mathews, 1932 — Oliver (1955)
Pealeornis maoriana (Mathews, 1932)
Taxonomic Source(s): Brooke, M. de L. 2004. Albatrosses and Petrels Across the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Taxonomic Notes:

Fregetta maoriana endemic to New Zealand (Brooke 2004), was not listed by Turbott (1990) as it was previously believed to be extinct. Fregetta maoriana (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Oceanites as O. maorianus (Oliver 1955) and genus Pealeornis as P. maoriana (Mathews 1932) by the New Zealand Checklist (2010).
Identification information: 17 cm. A medium-sized storm petrel with noticeably large head, long legs and long feet, the latter projecting well beyond the square tail. Head, neck and upperparts blackish-brown except for pale carpal bar, white rump and uppertail coverts. Breast blackish-brown grading into blackish streaks on white belly, flanks and undertail coverts, but the amount of streaking highly variable. On the dark underwing, there is a pale central patch. Bill, eye, legs and feet black. Toes extend well beyond the tail in flight, which is swift-like with alternating flapping and glides. Similar spp. Black-bellied Storm Petrel Fregatta tropica, much larger, lacks the streaked flanks, generally has a black belly stripe and has broader, more rounded wings. White-bellied Storm Petrel Fregetta grallaria lacks any streaking on the normally white upper breast and belly (some populations have dark bellied forms) and also has broader, more rounded wings, and toes do not project beyond tail. Wilson's Storm Petrel Oceanites oceanicus is all dark ventrally, but does have a similar, but not the same, flight progression.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Baird, K., Fitzgerald, N., Gaskin, C., Hitchmough, R., Ismar , S., Rayner, M., Saville, S., Scofield, P., Stahl, J.-C., Stephenson, B., Szabo, M., Taylor, G.A., Tennyson, A. & Weeber, B.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Anderson, O., Ashpole, J, Benstead, P., Bird, J., Brooks, T., Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Lascelles, B., Martin, R, Moreno, R., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.
Previously assumed to have been Extinct following the lack of records since three specimens were collected in the 1800s, this species was spectacularly rediscovered in 2003, with multiple annual records subsequently. Although there is very little information on which to base an assessment, the species has been precautionarily classified as Critically Endangered on the basis of an extremely small population which could be susceptible to the impacts of introduced predators. Tentative population estimate (based on recaptures on land and re-sightings of banded birds at sea) indicate a bigger population than was thought which may well lead to a revision of the criteria triggered and the category to which it is assigned.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Fregetta maoriana was known only from putative fossil material (Holdaway 1999), and from three specimens collected in the 19th century, two from the East Coast of the North Island, New Zealand (Bourne et al. 2004), and one of unknown provenance, but suggested to be Banks Peninsula, South Island (Medway et al. 2004). However, one individual was observed and photographed off the Mercury Islands, North Island in January 2003 (Saville et al. 2003), and subsequently 10-20 attracted to ‘chum’were observed and photographed north of Little Barrier Island, North Island in November 2003 (Flood 2003). Since then birds have been observed in the Hauraki Gulf each summer (October to April) (Gaskin and Baird 2005). A review of previous petrel sightings and specimens suggests the New Zealand Storm-petrel may have been present in the Hauraki Gulf for at least the past four decades (Stephenson et al. 2008). A programme of at-sea capture begun in 2005 culminated in the discovery of breeding burrows on Little Barrier Island in February 2013, following the capture of 31 individuals, DNA analysis, monitoring of breeding condition of individuals, and deployment of tracking devices (Stephenson 2006a,b, Stephenson 2008, Gaskin 2013, Rayner et al. 2013, Rayner et al. 2015). Identification confusion with an undescribed Fregetta taxon (the ‘Coral Sea Storm-petrel) (Walbridge 2014) has seen a re-evaluation of reported sightings off Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, Australia. Photographs from sightings off Victoria and New South Wales would appear to be New Zealand Storm-petrels (Lester 2012).    

Its movement patterns are largely unknown, although it is likely a significant part of population is resident in northern New Zealand waters throughout the year; some birds (possibly immatures and/or non-breeders) migrating to Australian waters from March.
Countries occurrence:
New Zealand
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:1690000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):750
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


Seen at sea in small numbers, with ‘flocks’ of 10-20, 11 and 10-30 birds have been recorded during chumming sessions (Flood 2003, Gaskin and Baird 2005, Rayner et al. 2013). 

Trend Justification:  The population may be increasing, though there is still not enough evidence of it.

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

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The species is present in the Hauraki Gulf and northern New Zealand waters throughout most of the year. Sightings and burrow attendance confirm presence from September to July. It probably feeds on small crustaceans and plankton associated with this water, and it is readily attracted to chum slicks (Gaskin and Baird 2005). The breeding season has been confirmed February (egg-laying) through to June-July (fledging). Nesting burrows are crevice-like in crumbly, rocky, litter-covered ground under forest, and contained downy chicks fledging in June and July (Tennyson et al. in litt.).

Systems:Terrestrial; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:No
Generation Length (years):15.6
Movement patterns:Unknown
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): No immediate threats are known, but the species possibly impacted by avian predators (e.g. morepork). 

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Conservation Actions Underway

The species has benefited from cat and rat-eradication programmes on Te-Hauturu-o-Toi/Little Barrier Island. Determining likely breeding timing (Rayner et al. 2013) led the discovery breeding grounds in February 2013 after ten years of searching using radio transmitters fitted to birds captured at sea (Rayner et al. 2015). Maintaining the predator-free status of Te-Hauturu-o-Toi/Little Barrier Island (one of the world’s premier nature reserves) is paramount and a high level of biosecurity measures is in place (maintained by Department of Conservation rangers permanently on the island). A trial artificial colony site using nest boxes and acoustic attraction (ie. using recordings of New Zealand Storm-petrel calls) has been established with birds visiting but not currently breeding (2016). 

Conservation Actions Proposed

Due to the fragile nature of known breeding sites surveillance of these sites will be kept to a minimum. Searches for breeding sites on other islands will be conducted using techniques successfully employed on Te-Hauturu-o-Toi/Little Barrier Island (Ismar et al. 2015). A successful chick-feeding trial with White-faced Storm-petrels (Young 2013) showed that storm-petrels could be fledged successfully in artificial conditions opening the possibility of future storm-petrel translocations if deemed necessary.     

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Fregetta maoriana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22728808A94997424. . Downloaded on 22 August 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided