Family Petrels, Shearwaters (Procellariidae)

Least Concern

Soft-plumaged Petrel (Pterodroma mollis)


French: Pétrel soyeux German: Weichfeder-Sturmvogel Spanish: Petrel suave

Procellaria mollis


, 1844,

south Atlantic Ocean, latitude 20° S to 40° S


Formerly considered conspecific with P. feae and P. madeira. Has sometimes been split into two subspecies, with dubia or fusca having been used for populations of S Indian Ocean, but claimed differences may be complicated by individual variation and effects of plumage wear. Rare dark morph may be result of hybridization with other species. Monotypic.


Southern Ocean, breeding at Tristan da Cunha and Gough I, Prince Edward Is, Crozet, Kerguelen and Amsterdam I, as well as Antipodes Is (SE of New Zealand). Recently found breeding on Maatsuyker I (off S Tasmania)#R.

Descriptive notes

32–37 cm; 250–380 g; wingspan 83–95 cm (wingspan measurements refer to P. mollis, P. feae and P. madeira). Greyish gadfly... read more


Not known to call at sea. Three main calls given in flight at colonies: most commonly heard is a... read more


Marine and highly pelagic, rarely approaching land except at colonies. Breeds on oceanic islands,... read more

Food and feeding

Mostly cephalopods (Gonatus antarcticus, Discoteuthis); also crustaceans and some fish; in different studies, cephalopods... read more


Generally starts Sept, with return to colony variously dated Aug–Oct (possibly later at higher latitudes), followed by pre-laying... read more


Little known, but most records are between 30º S and 60º S over seas that vary from 0... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Total population thought to number perhaps 5,000,000 birds; tens of thousands of pairs on Crozet Is (where most important population... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C., Jutglar, F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Soft-plumaged Petrel (Pterodroma mollis). 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 27 February 2020).