Story: Petrels

Gadfly petrel

Gadfly petrel

This gadfly petrel drawn by J. G. Keulemans, probably from a museum specimen, is not in a natural posture. Most petrels do not stand up high on their webbed toes, but have most of the next section of the leg (the tarsus) on the ground. They shuffle along, often with some assistance from their wings. Gadfly or white-headed petrels belong to the genus Pterodroma, which includes a quarter of all the petrel species. The name Pterodroma means ‘winged runner’. This petrel, Pterodroma lessoni, was formerly known as Oestrelata lessoni. Gadfly petrels are surprisingly good at climbing trees, which give them a raised launching pad.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: PUBL-0218-2-085
Lithograph by John Gerrard Keulemans

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Kerry-Jayne Wilson, 'Petrels - Prions, gadfly, storm and diving petrels', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 June 2024)

Story by Kerry-Jayne Wilson, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 17 Feb 2015