Marine Wildlife Encyclopedia
Bonin Petrel Pterodroma hypoleuca
There are over two dozen species of Pterodroma petrels, mostly in tropical and subtropical regions, and these are often difficult to distinguish at sea. The Bonin petrel is a typical example from the northwestern Pacific, where it nests on scattered islands westward from Hawaii. It has a small, short, slightly hooked bill and sharply pointed wings, and it is fast and agile as it speeds through the air just above the waves. It eats small planktonic animals, usually landing on the surface to feed. This petrel nests in burrows but has difficulty moving on land. To reduce the risk of attack from predators, the Bonin petrel generally returns to land at night, when it may deliver regurgitated food to its single chick. The parents share the task of egg incubation over about 49 days. On remote islands, petrel colonies can be decimated by introduced predators, such as rats and cats. The Bonin petrel is one species that has been badly affected.