Medium-sized, grey and white gadfly petrel. Grey upperparts with dark cap and dark “M” across wings. White underparts except for indistinct pale grey half-collar across upper breast. Predominantly dark grey-brown underwing. Similar spp. Fea’s Petrel P. feae is virtually identical but slightly larger with longer, thicker bill and longer wings. Voice Wails and moans at colony. Silent at sea.
Marine and pelagic in subtropical north-east Atlantic; breeds on virtually inaccessible ledges on heavily vegetated cliffs at c. 1600 m in cool, moist interior of island of Madeira. Over sea keeps in lowest airspace.
Pterodroma madeira has an estimated breeding population of 65-80 pairs, in the central mountain massif of Madeira, Portugal. Birds are only known to breed on six inaccessible ledges, with a recent survey noting 53 active nests out of a total of 72 identified. Previous studies have produced varying population estimates: a model conservatively estimated a population of 68 birds prior to the breeding season, assuming that P. madeira has a similar age distribution to the closely related P. cahow; and a larger population of 250-400 birds has been suggested, based on the number of birds flying over the colony on three nights in June 1989, and on comparing this with work carried out on the Chatham Island Taiko P. magentae. The true population is likely to lie between these two estimates. Subfossil bones from a lowland cave suggest that it was formerly more numerous and widespread. Little is known about the species’s range outside the breeding season.
The gadfly-petrels, to which Zino’s Petrel belongs, are highly social and when courting tend to congregate at night in one particular area and call repeatedly, although they also call elsewhere. In the case of Zino’s Petrel courting occurs over the main breeding area, during the late evening and early morning hours (Zino & Zino 1986).
The birds return from sea to their breeding grounds in late March or early April and laying takes place from mid-May to early June. Nests are located in burrows about 140 cm deep, situated on well vegetated ledges which are generally inaccessible to man, goats and sheep. A single egg is laid, and hatching takes place in late July and early August, with the young usually fledging in late September or early October (Zino & Zino 1986). Breeding performance on the main ledge in previous years is shown in Table 1. Breeding success on the 1987 ledge before the destruction of the colony by a cat is not known.
Zino’s Petrel, as with other Pterodroma species, probably feeds on small squid and fish. The vomit of one bird handled in 1987 contained remains of cephalopods, bioluminiscent myctophid fish Electrona rissoi, and amphipod and isopod crustaceans
This species has been downlisted to Endangered because its breeding population, which is increasing slowly, is now believed to number 65-80 pairs breeding on six cliff ledges in the central mountain massif of Madeira. However, the population is still extremely small, and as such it qualifies as Endangered. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
Desertas: main laying period July-August, with young in nest to at least December, on Madeira in May. Cape Verde Islands: main laying period December-January.
Builds nest in boulder screes, on flat or steeply sloping ground. Colonial, with nests 0.3-2 m apart. Nest: burrow in ground or between rocks, or natural crevices between rocks. Building: no details. EGGS. Elliptical ovate; white. Clutch: 1. One brood. No information on replacements.
Only seen in Madeiran waters in breeding season, roughly April to late October, otherwise completely unknown due to rarity of species and difficulty of separation from other Pterodroma when seen at sea.
- spanwidth min.: 78 cm
- spanwidth max.: 83 cm
- size min.: 32 cm
- size max.: 33 cm
- incubation min.: 51 days
- incubation max.: 54 days
- fledging min.: 83 days
- fledging max.: 86 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 1
- eggs max.: 1
- Conservation Status