Family Petrels, Shearwaters (Procellariidae)


White-winged Petrel (Pterodroma leucoptera)


French: Pétrel de Gould German: Weißflügel-Sturmvogel Spanish: Petrel aliblanco
Other common names: Gould's Petrel

Procellaria leucoptera


, 1844,

Cabbage Tree Island, Port Stephens, New South Wales, Australia


Forms part of assemblage often referred to as subgenus Cookilaria. Often treated as conspecific with P. brevipes, which is slightly paler and with less extensive hood (1), has broader dark trailing edge of wing (1), lacks paler inner webs of primaries (1), and has shorter legs (2) and longer wing (2). Recent analysis of plumage alone found no consistent differences between nominate and race caledonica#R, although see below under Descriptive notes for suggested size differences. Two subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. l. leucoptera (Gould, 1844) – SW & C Pacific Ocean, breeding off E Australia on islands of Cabbage Tree, Boondelbah, Broughton and Little Broughton (C New South Wales)#R.
  • P. l. caledonica#R Imber & Jenkins, 1981 – tropical E Pacific Ocean, breeding in New Caledonia and Austral Is (Raivavae)#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    30 cm; 129–260 g; wingspan 70–71 cm. Rather small grey-and white-gadfly petrel that appears hooded in dorsal view, with dark pattern across upperwings and... read more


    Two principal vocalizations described for nominate and caledonica, namely a thin, cicada-... read more


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

    Food and feeding

    Very little known, but apparently mostly squid and other cephalopods (mainly ommastrephids); small fish (especially myctophids) also... read more


    Starts Nov/Dec, with first return to colonies in Oct and pre-laying exodus of 2–3 weeks. Colonial and strictly nocturnal at breeding... read more


    Pelagic. A study combining observational data and use of geolocators elucidated the movements of... read more

    Status and conservation

    VULNERABLE. Previously considered Near Threatened (when treated as conspecific with P. brevipes); both leucoptera and caledonica are separately... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C., Jutglar, F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). White-winged Petrel (Pterodroma leucoptera). 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).