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Monday, 4 April 2016

Round Island Petrel: Animal Fact Series Part 4

The Round Island Petrel:

The Round Island petrel is a small seabird that only breeds in Mauritius. I worked with these snakes in 2015 while the warden of Round Island for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF).  So let's get some basic facts down.

Common Name: Round Island Petrel
Other names: Trinidae, Kermadec & Herald petrels
Latin name: Pterodroma arminjoniana
Location: Round Island, Mauritius
Habitat: Indian ocean and Rocky Islands
Status: Vulnerable
Population: 1100-1500

So this species is not a species but it is. It's a bit confusing. Some places classify it as a species but others don't. It is actually a complex hybrid of three species of petrel.Being a mix of Trinidae, Kermadec & Herald petrels. As it is a complex mix you get different forms of the species. Pale, dark and intermediate. I loved the pale ones who were a pale slaty blue. The dark phase was dark brown and intermediate a mix of the two with a white chest.

Being made of three species the birds from Round Island move to different parts of the world. Geolocators, which I attached while the warden, help show where. Depending on the make up they go to different places. Some up to Arabia, others south America or Australia. Blood is taken when tags are attached to build a DNA match to location.

The bird is called the Round Island petrel as it only breeds on Round Island. There isn't really a breeding season, chicks are found year round. There are however peaks where little fuzzball chicks litter the island.They have few predators. The main one being the Round island boa who will eat the chicks. 

The birds all have their own personalities. Strangely I found the pale form to be very relaxed when caught but the dark form were vicious. They would struggle and bite away. After a day catching the birds I would be covered in bites and scratches. Having no predators as adults the birds are pretty relaxed and you can pick them up from the ground. However the birds are learning and a lot fly away as wardens approach. I often had to sneak up on the birds to catch them.