Great-winged Petrel – Accepted

1. 21 Jul 1996


Cordell Bank MRN




and 24 Aug 1996


vic. Cordell Bank MRN



ph., FN 51:114

2. 18 Oct 1998


Monterey Bay MTY



Figs. 39, 40, ph., cover of NAB 53(1), Roberson (2002:280), Rogers & Jaramillo (2002)





Figure 39. California’s second Great-winged Petrel—photographed on 18 October 1998 at Monterey Bay, Monterey County —was also the second for the northern Pacific Ocean. Note its similarity to the smaller Murphy’s Petrel (1998-163; John Sorensen).


Figure 40. Field sketches of the Great-winged Petrel found on 18 October 1998 on Monterey Bay, Monterey County. A recent article on pelagic birding in California (Shearwater 2004:636) affords a peek at the creative process that led to this final product (1998-163; Sophie Webb).

Great-winged Petrel

GREAT-WINGED PETREL Pterodroma macroptera (Smith, 1840)

Accepted: 2 (100%)

Treated in Appendix H: no

Not accepted: 0

CBRC review: all records

Not submitted/reviewed: 0

Color image: none

This stocky petrel’s distribution is almost circumpolar in the southern oceans, with individuals rarely crossing the Tropic of Capricorn (Harrison 1983). Its two subspecies differ in facial coloration, with P. m. gouldi (known alternatively as the Gray-faced Petrel) showing an extensive pale coloration around the bill, including on the throat and forehead, that is lacking or reduced on P. m. macroptera. Subspecies gouldi breeds during the austral winter around North Island, New Zealand, then disperses west toward Australia, mostly from February to May (Heather and Robertson 1996).

The first Great-winged Petrel recorded in the Northern Hemisphere appeared over Cordell Bank on 21 July 1996. Murphy’s Petrel—the expected species of dark Pterodroma petrel in the northeastern Pacific Ocean—was first considered, but the Cordell Bank bird was larger and more uniformly colored, with a larger bill and a more lumbering flight. Both California records, possibly involving the same bird, occurred during the species’ nesting season, and both appeared to be referable to gouldi, a subspecies previously unknown north of the Tropic of Capricorn. The ABA Checklist Committee added this species on a 7-1 vote, citing the two California records (Robbins et al. 2004).