List Category & Criteria: CR D ver 3.1 (2001)
2004, Assessor/s: BirdLife International
Evaluator/s: Stattersfield, A. & Dutson, G. (BirdLife
International Red List Authority)
Justification: This species has not been recorded since 1929,
and it may have declined severely from depredation by introduced
cats and rats on its breeding grounds (which are unknown).
However, it probably remains extant, because there have been
a number of recent records of up to 250 individuals of the
very similar Tahiti Petrel P. rostrata in the Bismarck Archipelago
and Solomon Islands which may refer to this species. Furthermore,
petrels that are nocturnal at the nesting grounds are notoriously
difficult to detect, and there are numerous possible breeding
sites on isolated atolls and islands that require surveying.
Any remaining population may be tiny, and for these reasons
it is treated as Critically Endangered.
History: 1988 - Threatened (Collar and Andrew 1988)
1994 - Critically Endangered (Collar, Crosby and Stattersfield
2000 - Critically Endangered (BirdLife International 2000)
2004. Pseudobulweria becki. In: IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List
of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded
on 16 April 2008..
Pseudobulweria becki, is a small, recently rediscovered gadfly
It is dark brown above and on the head and throat. It is dark underneath
with a fairly distinct white wingbar.
The belly and breast are white. It flies over open oceans with straight
that are slightly bent back at the tips.
This bird is believed
to nest on small islands with tall mountains around Melanesia.
Its specific name commemorates the American ornithologist Rollo
This bird used to
be known from only two specimens a female east of New Ireland
and a male north-east of Rendova, Solomon Islands in 1929.
In 2006, a bird possibly of this species was photographed in Australia's
other tubenoses, Becks Petrel is potentially threatened by
logging and forest clearance for oil-palm plantations.
A. Butler, Mongobay.com
In recent times, sightings
of birds that may have been Beck's Petrels were reported
from the Bismarck Archipelago and Solomon Islands.
Hadoram Shirihai, the Israeli ornithologist and well-known expert
finally managed to confirm the species' continuing existence.
In 2003, he had made some of the tentative sightings, and returning
to the area in July and
August 2007, he observed and photographed some 30 birds, including
juveniles and adults.
Sightings were especially frequent near Cape St George, New Ireland.
A bird that had recently died was collected as the third specimen,
finally providing definite proof of the mysterious petrels' identity.
The breeding grounds
are still undiscovered.
While most of the data suggests a location in the southern Bismarck
it must be remembered that petrels are notoriously migratory
and move away from their breeding grounds after the young have fledged,
often for considerable distances.
It is still more likely than not that the species breeds in Melanesia
southeast of New Guinea,
as was hypothesized at the species' discovery.
clearing in forest area near oil palm plantations in Kalimantan Photo
by R. Butler
bird that was known only from two records from the 1920s has
in the Pacific after a gap of 79 years.
Sightings of the Critically Endangered Becks Petrel
Pseudobulweria becki published
by the British Ornithologists' Club, have finally proven the
species is still in existence,
and delighted conservationists.
voyage into the Bismarck Archipelago, north-east of Papua
successfully managed to photograph more than 30 of these elusive
This included sightings of fledged juveniles - suggesting
A freshly dead young bird salvaged at sea also becomes only
the third specimen in existence.
of the route followed by the successful voyage in July-August
A hotspot for sightings was near Cape St George, on the southern
tip of New Ireland.
The small tube-nosed seabird was first described
by Rollo Beck, an ornithologist and
collector of museum specimens. The petrel, which now bears
his name, was previously only known from two specimens he
collected in 1928 and 1929 during an expedition to the region.
Confirming the existence of Becks Petrel was difficult
because it is similar to Tahiti Petrel Pseudobulweria rostrata,
few people have looked for it at sea, and it may be nocturnal
at the breeding grounds. There are numerous atolls and islands
where it may breed.
other tubenoses, Becks Petrel is potentially threatened
by introduced cats and rats
at its breeding sites, and by logging and forest clearance
for oil-palm plantations.
Until the breeding sites have been identified the threats
Vast areas of natural
forest have been converted for soy farms in the Amazon and oil palm
plantations in Asia. However, on a relative basis, oil palm may
be more ecologically sound
due to its higher oil yield than soy.
In theory, because oil palm can produce as much as 30 times more
oil per unit of area,
it could require a lesser amount of land clearing.
Of course planting oil palm on previously deforested land would
be a preferrable option.
that arises, is that cattle often are let into the new plant area,
eating what comes up...... However, fences could be built.