• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Great-winged Petrel - BirdForum Opus

Photo by nkgray
off Sodwana Bay, Durban, South Africa, November 2005
Pterodroma macroptera


Length 40-41cm. Wingspan 97cm
Large, dark and long-winged gadfly-petrel that can resemble the darker shearwaters.
Adult: almost entirely blackish-brown with an indistinct greyish patch around the bill-base and underwing with silvery flash across coverts. Iris brown, bill all black, short and stout, legs black.

Juvenile: as adult but with more distinct grey face patch.

Similar species

Grey-faced Petrel is slightly larger, has more grey on the head (like a juvenile Great-winged Petrel) and a deeper-based bill.


Widespread in the Southern Oceans.
Breeds on Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island, on Crozet, Marion, Prince Edward and Keruelen Islands, perhaps also Amsterdam Island. Also breeds on islands off the south coast of Western Australia between Eclipse Island near Albany to Cape Arid and particularly on the Recherche Archipelago.
Adults are sedentary but juveniles disperse widely and occur mainly between 30°S and 50°S in the southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans and the south Pacific east to about Pitcairn Island. Fairly common off southern African coasts reaching 10°S off the west and 19°S off the east. Common off the south coast of Western Australia, also occurring off Victoria, presumably from New Zealand breeding range.
Has been recorded near Cape Horn.


This is a monotypic species.
Has been considered conspecific with Grey-faced Petrel in the past.


Breeds on islands or remote headlands, otherwise at sea. Shy at sea and rarely follows ships.



Swift and powerful, hurried with high sweeping arcs. Distinguished from darker shearwaters by bull-necked and head-down appearance and also short, thick bill. Also resembles Kerguelen Petrel P. brevirostris but larger and browner.


Squid and crustaceans with some fish.


Breeds February to November in a burrow or under a rock or vegetation, singly or in loose colonies. Eggs: 1, white (66 x 47mm) laid in May, hatch in mid-July-August and young fledge by November.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2016. IOC World Bird Names (version 6.3). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.

Recommended Citation

External Links