Gadfly petrel

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Gadfly petrels
Pterodroma hasitataPCCA20070623-3608B.jpg
Black-capped petrel (Pterodroma hasitata)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Procellariiformes
Family: Procellariidae
Genus: Pterodroma
Bonaparte, 1856
Type species
Procellaria macroptera (great-winged petrel)
Smith A., 1840

About 35, see text

The gadfly petrels or Pterodroma are a genus of about 35 species of petrels, part of the seabird order Procellariiformes. The gadfly petrels are named for their speedy weaving flight, as if evading gadflies (horseflies). The flight action is also reflected in the name Pterodroma, from Ancient Greek pteron, "wing" and dromos, "runner".

The short, sturdy bills of these medium to large petrels are adapted for soft prey that they pick from the ocean surface. They have twisted intestines for digesting marine animals that have unusual biochemistries.

Their complex wing and face marking are probably for interspecific recognition.

These birds nest in colonies on islands and are pelagic when not breeding. One white egg is laid usually in a burrow or on open ground. They are nocturnal at the breeding colonies.

While generally wide-ranging, most Pterodroma species are confined to a single ocean basin (e.g. Atlantic), and vagrancy is not as common amongst the genus as in some other seabird species (c.f. the storm petrels Hydrobatidae).


The genus Pterodroma was introduced in 1856 by the French naturalist Charles Lucien Bonaparte.[1] The genus name combines the Ancient Greek pteron meaning "wing" with dromos meaning "racer" or "runner".[2] The type species was subsequently designated as the great-winged petrel by the American ornithologist Elliott Coues in 1866.[3][4]

The species listed here are those recognised in the online list maintained by Frank Gill, Pamela Rasmussen and David Donsker on behalf of the International Ornithological Committee (IOC). The genus includes 35 species, of which one has become possibly extinct in historical times.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bonaparte, Charles Lucien (1856). "Espèces nouvelles d'oiseaux d'Asie et d'Amérique, et tableaux paralléliques des Pélagiens ou Gaviae". Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Séances de l'Académie des Sciences (in French). 42: 764–776 [768].
  2. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 322. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. ^ Coues, Elliott (1866). "Critical review of the family Procellaridae: Part IV; Embracing the Aestrelateae and the Prioneae". Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 18: 134–172 [137].
  4. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Cottrell, G. William, eds. (1979). Check-List of Birds of the World. Vol. 1 (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 65.
  5. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (July 2021). "Petrels, albatrosses". IOC World Bird List Version 11.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 23 December 2021.
  6. ^ Brooke, M.D.L.; Imber, M.; Rowe, G. (2000). "Occurrence of two surface-breeding species of Pterodroma on Round Island, Indian Ocean". Ibis. 142 (1): 154–158. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2000.tb07700.x.
  7. ^ a b Jaramillo, Alvaro (July 2013). "Proposal 582: Split Pterodroma heraldica and P. atrata from P. arminjoniana". South American Classification Committee, American Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 23 December 2021.
  8. ^ Brown, Ruth M.; Jordan, William C. (2009). "Characterization of polymorphic microsatellite loci from Round Island petrels (Pterodroma arminjoniana) and their utility in other seabird species". Journal of Ornithology. 150 (4): 925–929. doi:10.1007/s10336-009-0411-5.
  9. ^ Brown, R.M.; Jordan, W.C.; Faulkes, C.G.; Jones, C.G.; Bugoni, L.; Tatayah, V.; Palma, R.L.; Nichols, R.A. (2011). "Phylogenetic relationships in Pterodroma petrels are obscured by recent secondary contact and hybridization". PLOS ONE. 6 (5): e20350. Bibcode:2011PLoSO...620350B. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020350. PMC 3105042. PMID 21655247.
  10. ^ Merton, Don; Bell, Mike (2003). "New seabird records from Round Island, Mauritius". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 123: 212–215.