Parkinson’s Petrel – Accepted

1. 01 Oct 2005


vic. Cordell Bank MRN



Figs. H-1, H-8, ph., video, Pyle (2006), Howell (2006b), Stallcup & Preston (2006)


Parkinson’s Petrel – Not accepted, identification not established

07 Jun 1996


~23.5 nmi. ssw Southeast Farallon I. SF




11 Oct 2004


off Pt. Reyes MRN




08 Sep 2005


~85 nmi. sw San Nicolas I., VEN











Figure H-1. Parkinson’s and Westland Petrels are both uniformly dark, and both have pale, dark-tipped bills. Parkinson’s is smaller and slighter, with a smaller and more rounded head, a smaller bill, and wings that often appear relatively long and narrow. This bird, California’s first accepted Parkinson’s, was photographed on 1 October 2005 near Cordell Bank in Marin County (2005-129; Eric Preston).



Figure H-8. This photograph of California’s first Parkinson’s Petrel, taken on 1 October 2005 near Cordell Bank off Marin County, shows the bird’s overall shape, wedge-shaped tail, and yellowish bill with a dark tip. Parkinson’s closely resembles other dark petrels, especially the Westland and White-chinned, but excellent photos like this one exclude other species by showing the bird’s relatively slight build, long, narrow wings, long tail, relatively small head and bill, and entirely dark chin (2005-129; Eric Preston).









Parkinson’s Petrel

PARKINSON’S PETREL Procellaria parkinsoni Gray, 1862

Accepted: 1 (25%)


Not accepted: 3

CBRC review: all records

Not submitted/reviewed: 0

Large color image, see Figure H-8

This petrel breeds on islands off New Zealand and migrates northeast to tropical waters of the eastern Pacific, where it is found mainly March–November. It avoids inshore waters except around colonies (Carboneras 1992). The species occurs in the eastern Pacific from southern Mexico (~15° N) to northern Peru (~5° S) (Pit­man and Ballance 1992). On 22 October 2005 one was photographed at Heceta Bank off central Oregon (NAB 60:127).

California’s first accepted Parkinson’s Petrel was photographed on 1 October 2005 as it foraged with Pink-footed and Sooty Shearwaters near Cordell Bank, Marin County (Stallcup and Preston 2006; Figures H-1, H-8). As reviewed by Howell (2006b), identifying “black” members of this genus—particularly distinguishing between Parkinson’s and the West­land Petrel (P. westland­ica)—must be done with care. These two species differ mainly in size and bulk, Parkinson’s being smaller and slighter. The White-chinned Petrel (P. aequin­oc­tialis) is also larger than Parkinson’s and typically lacks the dark tip to the bill shown by the other two. Confusion with the Flesh-footed Shearwater must also be avoided.

Two earlier reports of Parkinson’s Petrel from California waters warrant mention. The first, in June 1996, came from two experienced seabird researchers and garnered considerable Committee support before re­ceiving a 4-6 final vote. Ultimately, the brevity of observation (less than a minute from a moving boat), and initial confusion over the bird’s identification (it was originally thought to be a Westland Petrel) weighed heavily against the record (Rottenborn and Morlan 2000). The second report, from Marin County waters in October 2004, is supported by photographs that do not clearly show the bird’s bill shape, and some members were not convinced that a Flesh-footed Shearwater was ruled out (Cole et al. 2006).