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Mottled Petrel

Pterodroma inexpectata

Length: 14 inches Wingspan: 32 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Short, heavy bill, dark grey above with dark bars forming "M" shape on bird in flight, light underwings with obvious black band

Mottled Petrel - Pterodroma inexpectataThe Mottled Petrel is a small petrel that breeds on islands near New Zealand.  Non-breeding birds wander widely across the Pacific, with birds commonly found as far north as the Bering Sea.  North American records are much more common near Alaska than further south on the North American coast, as longitudinal movement eastward from the breeding grounds seems less pronounced for non-breeding birds than northward latitudinal movement.

Habitat: Breeds on remote offshore islands. Non-breeding birds are pelagic, typically found far from shore.

Diet: Feeds on squid, crustaceans, and small fish.

Behavior: Feeds by flying over the water's surface, dropping down when prey is spotted and skimming prey items at or just below the surface.

Nesting: The Mottled Petrel lays a single egg when breeding, placed in a burrow or in a rocky crevice. They mate for life, with pair bonds renewed each breeding season by caressing and preening each other with their bills.

Song: Usually silent away from breeding grounds, but they do have a high "te-te-te-te-te" call given in flight.

Migration: A very long distance migrant, Mottled Petrels breed on islands near New Zealand. Outside of the breeding season, they wander widely throughout the Pacific, with many non-breeding birds evidently spending their time in the far north Atlantic near the Aleutian Islands.  Despite breeding in the south Atlantic, North American records are much more common far to the north in Alaska, with the species only being rarely found near the coast as far south as California.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Mottled Petrel sightings

Similar Species: Cook's Petrel, Stejneger's Petrel

Conservation Status: The breeding range is small, with several of its breeding islands having introduced predators.  Populations are also thought to be in decline.  Therefore, the IUCN lists the Mottled Petrel as "Near Threatened".

Further Information: 1) - Mottled Petrel

2) New Zealand Birds Online - Mottled Petrel

3) BirdLife International - Mottled Petrel

Image Information: Photo taken by "StormPetrel1" - April 29th, 2009 - Snares Island in the Pacific Ocean - Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 2.0 Generic License.


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Mottled Petrel - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota. 

Additional Mottled Petrel Photos (coming soon!!)