Family Petrels, Shearwaters (Procellariidae)


Henderson Petrel (Pterodroma atrata)


French: Pétrel de Henderson German: Hendersonsturmvogel Spanish: Petrel de la Henderson

Pterodroma atrata


, 1912,

Pitcairn Islands, South Pacific


This taxon was first recorded, and named “Procellaria atrata”, in 1769, during Captain Cook’s first voyage, but that account became known only later, in 1912, when species was formally described under present name. Thereafter it was long considered merely a dark morph of very variable P. arminjoniana, and the name “atrata” was not mentioned in HBW 1. Monotypic.


Tropical Pacific Ocean, breeding on Henderson I (Pitcairn Is), and recently found nesting on Easter I (c. 2000 km E of Henderson)#R; possibly also on some islands in French Polynesia, W of Pitcairns. Distribution in non-breeding period little known.

Descriptive notes

c. 36–37 cm; c. 320 g (weight at fledging); wingspan c. 90–97 cm. A typical, medium-sized gadfly petrel. Plumage is rather uniformly bluish grey-brown, somewhat... read more


Little known. Short series of moaning or bleating calls increasing in speed and pitch to become a... read more


Breeds in scrub in dense forest on plateau of Henderson I. Forages over open ocean.

Food and feeding

Feeds mainly on squid (Teuthida) and other cephalopods, but also takes fish and crustaceans.


Few data. On Henderson I, nest placed on ground in moist subtropical scrub on top plateau of island, although closer to coast than P.... read more


Little information. Outside breeding season wanders widely over Pacific Ocean, e.g. recorded off... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Restricted-range species: present in Henderson Island EBA. Global population assessed at 50,000–99,999 mature individuals. Population on Henderson I... read more

Recommended citation

Fjeldså, J., Kirwan, G.M. & Bonan, A. (2020). Henderson Petrel (Pterodroma atrata). 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 23 February 2020).