Family Petrels, Shearwaters (Procellariidae)


Desertas Petrel (Pterodroma deserta)


French: Pétrel des Desertas German: Desertassturmvogel Spanish: Petrel de las Desertas

Pterodroma deserta


, 1934,

Bugio Island, Desertas Islands, off south-east Madeira


This taxon was previously considered dubious and the population included within a monotypic P. feae (itself sometimes treated as conspecific with P. mollis). It has recently been accorded rank of full species on basis primarily of molecular data#R, although there are also differences between the two in bill morphology (slight, allow 1) and vocalizations (seemingly moderate, but possibly decisive, so 3); moreover, there is a marked difference from P. feae in timing of breeding (Jul–Aug vs Dec–Jan) (currently unscorable on system used herein, but clearly important). Treatment as separate species is here provisionally accepted on the basis of remarkable disjunction in breeding season and other characters. Monotypic.


Atlantic Ocean, breeding on Bugio I, in Desertas Is, off Madeira#R. Recently recorded a few times in Azores#R.

Descriptive notes

35–37 cm; 295–355 g; wingspan c. 95 cm. Plumage dark grey above, with white lores and lowermost forehead contrasting with black orbital area; rump darker than... read more


Various moaning calls, divided into two types, Moaning and Excited Calls, and considered generally... read more


Marine and pelagic.

Food and feeding

Squid (Teuthida) and small fish.


Egg-laying in Jul–Aug, and young leave nests during Dec. Normally nests in unused rabbit burrow or in burrow that it excavates itself,... read more


Disperses over subtropical waters in E North Atlantic. Arrives back in Madeira waters around Jun.... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. Restricted-range species: present in Madeira and Canary Islands EBA. Population breeding on Bugio in summer months has been estimated to number a few hundred. In... read more

Recommended citation

Fjeldså, J., Kirwan, G.M. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). Desertas Petrel (Pterodroma deserta). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 February 2020).