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Soft-plumaged Petrel Pterodroma mollis

  • Order: Procellariiformes
  • Family: Procellariidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
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Formerly considered conspecific with two very rare petrels confined to islands in the northeast Atlantic Ocean, Fea’s Petrel (Pterodroma feae) and Zino’s Petrel (Pterodroma madeira), the Soft-plumaged Petrel as now constituted is endemic to the Southern Ocean, where its range is almost circumpolar. As a breeder, however, it is found on only a few islands in the South Atlantic and South Indian Oceans, with a small number of pairs discovered recently on an islet off Tasmania. Separate subspecies are sometimes recognised in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, based on average differences in the breast-band and overall depth of the upperparts coloration, but the species is arguably better characterised by its having two colour morphs, of which the dark morph is much less numerous. The latter could be confused with the Kerguelen Petrel (Aphrodroma brevirostris), although it lacks the latter species’ silvery grey flashes in the wing coverts. Like other gadfly petrels, Soft-plumaged Petrel feeds on cephalopods, with smaller quantities of fish and crustaceans also taken. It is a colonial breeder, which breeds in self-excavated burrows on steep slopes, and lays a single white egg, but this species’ nesting biology as not been afforded the degree of attention given to some of its congeners. For now, at least, it is not globally threatened, despite the fact that feral cats and rats predate large numbers of birds on two of its breeding archipelagos.

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  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Soft-plumaged Petrel (Pterodroma mollis), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/soppet1