Seabirds page 1         Seabirds page 3          Back to ECO

Puffinus bulleri


Bullers shearwaters are one of our most common summer visitors, they stay mainly in a band from about 5 miles to 15 miles offshore. They are quite large for a shearwater and are easily recognised by their plumage pattern with a W on the back. They migrate to the North Pacific in the winter and arrive here in large flocks in November. Breeding is on the Poor Knights Islands where they lay in late November with the young flying in April.

Puffinus huttoni


Huttons shearwaters are our most common inshore summer shearwater, they normally arrive in October and leave in June although there are a few which stay year-round. They are a small shearwater dark brown above and white below with brown markings on the underside of the wings. They form large groups around fish schools feeding from the surface and are capable divers. In this area they are mainly an inshore bird coming within a few hundred metres of shore and rarely venturing farther out than 15 miles. Breeding is at over 4000ft on the Seaward Kaikoura Mountains with eggs in December and the young flying in March.

  Procellaria parkinsoni


Black petrels are present here most months of the year but are more prevalent in summer. They don't appear in large numbers but as they are eager to approach boats are easily seen. They are a large completely black petrel with black feet and a heavy greenish bill. They are known to nest on bush-clad mountain tops from Little Barrier Island to Stewart Island. Eggs are laid in December and the young fly in May or June.
A band can be seen on the leg of the bird shown.

Daption capensis


Cape pigeons are one of the predominant winter birds we have here, depending on the season they arrive in May or June and head south again from October with only a few stragglers still present in December. Their distinctive black and white plumage makes them unmistakable, they will often sit in flocks around a boat and are one of the few sea-birds other than gulls which will eat bread. The photo of the birds on the water show two distinct sizes and plumage pattern possibly different races. Cape pigeons nest from Antarctica to the sub-antarctic islands, eggs are laid in October and the young fly in March or April.

Puffinus griseus

Sootys are quite a large dark brown shearwater with a slender black bill and dark feet. They are similar to fleshfooted shearwaters but can be distinguished by their slimmer shape and when on the wing by a flash of white feathers on the underwing. Sootys are mostly a transitional bird here the main group travel south in September -October before the arrival of our summer birds. They must occupy a niche to the south of the fleshfooted shearwaters although there is mixing as there are always a few around all summer. They breed in burrows on offshore islands mainly from Stewart Island south, eggs are laid in November-December and young fly in April- May.

Macronectes giganteus

The largest of the petrels giants are unmistakable, their size, dirty looking grey-brown plumage and large pale bill with a single nasal tube sets them apart from any other bird we see. As a scavenger they will usually investigate any boats they see and will paddle up and almost take food from the hand. We don't see many here but they are likely to arrive at any time of the year. In New Zealand they breed on the Chathams and the sub-antarctic islands laying a single white egg between August and October.

Seabirds page 1                           Seabirds page 3                                Back to ECO