Bulwer's Petrel (Bulweria bulwerii)




A large all dark storm-petrel. Has longer wings and tail than other dark storm-petrels such as Swinhoe's Storm-petrel. Flight action is also characterisitic being buoyant and erratic with wings held stiffly bowed. The bill is generally held downwards. Makes a series of stiff flaps before each short twisting glide. Generally keeps close to water surface, circling and zig-zagging when hunting prey. Occasionally fans wedge-shaped tail, otherwise tail looks long and tapering. The pale brown carpal bar is hard to see at any distance.

Generally solitary at sea and does not habitually follow ships.

Where and When

A tropical species breeding in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Nests in holes and crevices on rocky slopes not far from the ocean. In the Atlantic, breeds throughout Macronesia, namely the Azores, Salvage Islands, Madeira (Porto Santo), Desertas, Canary Islands and Cape Verde Islands. In the Pacific breeds on Taiwan, Fujian and other islets off south-east China, the Bonin, Volcano and Ryuku Islands off Japan, Hawaii (Leeward chain as well as Kuala, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii), Johnston Atoll, Phoenix Island and the Marquesas. On the breeding colonies gives a low barking 'chuff' call which is repeated at varyiing speed and pitch. Has been likened to a steam engine.

Photographs on the web

Small series in flight Photos by Richard Ternullo and taken on the July 26th 1998, 16 miles west of Pt. Pinos in Monterey County, Northern California. First record for California.


Argeloo, M., & R. Dekker. (1996) Bulwer's Petrel in Indonesia. Kukila 8: 132-135.

Copyright © 2002 All rights reserved. Angus Wilson
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