Bulwer’s Petrel – Accepted

1. 26 Jul 1998


Monterey Bay MTY



Figs. 53, 54, ph., FN 52:498, 519, Roberson (2002)

Bulwer’s Petrel – Not accepted, identification not established

10 Jul 1993


Whitewater R., Salton Sea RIV




04 Sep 2003


30 nmi. s San Clemente I. LA









Image3131.TIF Image3131.TIF

Figures 53, 54 (top, bottom). The continent’s first photographically documented Bulwer’s Petrel as it appeared on 26 July 1998 at Monterey Bay in Monterey County. Another Bulwer’s was photographed just two weeks later off the coast of North Carolina (LeGrand et al. 1999). The two images above show a bird that is slighter, smaller-headed, and smaller-billed than would be expected of the somewhat similar Jouanin’s Petrel (1998-119; Bert McKee left; Greg Brinkley right).




Bulwer’s Petrel

BULWER’S PETREL Bulweria bulwerii (Jardine and Selby, 1828)

Accepted: 1 (33%)

Treated in Appendix H: no

Not accepted: 2

CBRC review: all records

Not submitted/reviewed: 0

Color image: none

This petrel is widely distributed in tropical and subtropical waters. The breeding grounds lie on islands off Japan and China, and southeastward to Hawaii, and birds range across the western Pacific Ocean between these breeding areas. Vagrants have been documented in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, including three records from the British Isles (Dymond et al. 1989) and singles well off the coast of North Carolina on 1 July 1992 (Hass 1995) and 8 August 1998 (LeGrand et al. 1999).

California’s lone record of Bulwer’s Petrel pertains to one photographed on 26 July 1998 at Monterey Bay, Monterey County (Figures 53, 54). The photos and other documentation rule out all other species including Jouanin’s Petrel (B. fallax), a species recorded as close to California as the northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Clapp 1971).

A Bulwer’s Petrel reported at the Salton Sea proved controversial: a procellariiform was undoubtedly observed, but the CBRC deemed the record’s documentation insufficient to rule out Jouanin’s or other small, dark petrels (Patten and Minnich 1997, Garrett and Singer 1998).

The other record not accepted by the CBRC involves a bird seen by three reporting observers for about a minute on 4 September 2003 roughly 30 nautical miles south of San Clemente Island, Los Angeles County. The Committee, as part of a 2.5-year review process, solicited the opinions of experienced observers familiar with both Bulwer’s and Jouanin’s petrels. These experts concluded that the bird’s described size and manner of flight were consistent with Bulwer’s but not with Jouanin’s, and they further suggested that the potential for confusing these two species is minimal. The record maintained strong support within the CBRC during each round of voting, and the two members who dissented in the final round acknowledged that the bird was probably a Bulwer’s Petrel. These two members believed, however, that the level of documentation was inadequate to support the second record of this species for the eastern Pacific Ocean.


[GRAY PETREL Procellaria cinerea Gmelin, 1789 – see hypothetical section]

[PARKINSON’S PETREL Procellaria parkinsoni Gray, 1862 – see Appendix H]