New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..

Extra Dawn Chorus Trip

Date posted: 20-Oct-2016

Stop Press: Extra Dawn Chorus trip now scheduled for Thursday 27th October 2016. ..

2016 AGM

Date posted: 06-Sep-2016

The 2016 AGM was held at the Kohia Centre at 7:30 pm on Monday 19th September. Click here (/..

Northern Giant Petrel

Scientific name:

Macronectes halli

 

 

Conservation status

Native seabird, naturally uncommon

Mainland status:

No breeding colonies on mainland New Zealand

Size:

90 cm, 4.5 kg

Lifespan:

 

Breeding:

Mid-August to February (fledging) 

Diet:

Penguins, squid and fish, dead marine animals 


The northern giant petrel is one of the largest petrels, larger than some albatrosses. Adults are mottled greyish brown with a paler face, a pinkish bill with large tube nostrils. Juveniles are darker and less mottled with yellowish bills. The bill looks almost too large for the size of the bird's head. This, coupled with the pale eye (in adults) gives them what some have described as a rather sinister appearance.

The aggressive males, in particular, have a reputation as voracious predators and scavengers. The prey on penguins and other birds, including albatross chicks and even adult albatrosses. The scavenge on dead penguins, other birds and marine mammals. Females have slightly different feeding habits, focusing on squid, fish and crustaceans taken from thesurface of the sea.

Northern giant petrels occur throughout the circumpolar region and nest on islands in the South Atlantic and southern Indian Ocean as well as on the Chathams, the Antipodes, Campbell Island and the Auckland Islands. The New Zealand breeding population is around 2500. They nest on the surface in a cup-shaped nest of tussock and other vegetation. The females lays one egg in mid-August to early September. The egg hatches after 60 days and the chick fledges at around 112 days old. Birds start to breed at the age of around 10 years.

Tiritiri Matangi is a long way from the giant petrel's breeding grounds, but through winter into early spring they range widely, as far north as 28 degrees south. Giant petrels are occasionally seen from the coastal path on Tiritiri Matangi. One, in August 2011, was seen from the East Coast Track associating with a small fishing boat.


Find out more about the Northern Giant Petrel at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photos: Martin Sanders ©

Reference: Heather, B. and Robertson, H. The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, Viking 2005.