Galápagos Petrel, Pterodroma phaeopygia

This large, long-winged seabird is found in the five islands of the Galapagos Archipelago. The local people of the islands often call them “patabegada”. This species was once known as The Dark-Rumped Petrel, although recent changes have eliminated that name from current use. This bird is an endemic marine bird and usually nests in highlands with high humidity.

In the past, the petrel population was severely affected by introduced mammals that depredated and altered the nesting colonies, leading to the assessment that the petrel was Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The presence of the Black Rat is one of the greatest threats to the population of petrels. They are the principle cause of mortality of eggs and hatchlings of the species. Some introduced plants have altered and restricted the nesting habit as well. The population of the Galapagos Petrel has decreased by 80 percent over the last 60 years.

Reproductive periods of petrels cover about eight months of the year. The majority of egg-laying takes place between May and October, with its peak in August. It breeds in burrows or natural cavities, on slopes, in craters, sinkholes, lava tunnels and gullies, usually in close proximity to Miconia plants. These birds usually feed on squid, fish and crustaceans.

There are variable amounts of black marking on the white forehead. Exceedingly similar to the Hawaiian Petrel, the Galapagos Petrel has longer wings, tarsus and bill. The Hawaiian Petrel lacks the black forehead markings that the Galapagos has.

Image Caption: Plate 56 from Godman’s ‘Monograph of the Petrels.’ Credit: John Gerrard Keulemans/Wikipedia