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Black-capped Petrel Pterodroma hasitata

  • Order: Procellariiformes
  • Family: Procellariidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors: Andrew Farnsworth


Conservation Status

Unlike many species of seabird that are critically threatened or highly endangered, "considerably more is known about the petrel's marine ecology than its breeding biology" (Simons et al. 2006).  This species has a small, fragmented and declining breeding range and population and has been extirpated from a number of sites; declines are likely to continue as a result of habitat loss and degradation, hunting and invasive predators (e.g. Norway Rat, Indian Mongoose).  These factors remain key threats in Haiti.  Birds are also predated by introduced mammals, and urbanization and increases in artificial lights may disorient birds into colliding with trees, wires and buildings. A telecommunications mast with guy wires erected in 1995 in the Dominican Republic poses a major, potential collision hazard.

As such, the petrel is highly vulnerable to threats of anthropogenic-related mortality (including disorientation by artificial lighting and collision with tall structures) and rampant habitat destruction.  As a result of these activities and events, and the potential for increasing activities that expose these petrels to risks, this species is seriously threatened. It's conservation status is rated by BirdLife International as Endangered; BirdLife International estimates that the total population is 5,000 individuals, and that the population is in decline.

Effects of human activity on populations

Simons et al. (2006) present an extensive description of the hazards to this species.  These include human predation (e.g. using light to attract and kill petrels at night), introduced mammalian predators, deforestation (and forest fires), and potential effects of offshore development for energy. Specifically, the development of petroleum fields off the coast of South Carolina, USA, could devastate this important feeding area (Lee 2000). Among other potential concerns with such development, lighting associated with operations may have a negative impact on this and several other rare species. Clearly, increasing population puts extreme pressure on this species on its nesting grounds, highlighting the tenuous position this species occupies in terms of its conservation needs and its vulnerability to direct and indirect anthropogenic effects.

Recommended Citation

Farnsworth, A. (2010). Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.