Story: Petrels

Fairy prions and red-billed gulls (1st of 2)

Fairy prions and red-billed gulls

In this picture the larger gulls give an idea of the fairy prions’ size – at just 125 grams, they are the smallest prions. Prions are also known as whale birds from their habit of flocking around whales, which have a similar diet. With over a million breeding pairs of fairy prions, New Zealand has half the world’s population of this species. Flocks of around a thousand birds are common in Cook Strait and elsewhere. They have a dark ‘M’ pattern across their wings, and as they fly they twist and turn in unison, flicking in and out of sight against the waves.

Using this item

Department of Conservation
Reference: 10031382
Photograph by Rod Morris

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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 15 July 2024)

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