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Beck’s Petrel, Pseudobulweria becki   

Hadoram Shirihai
Adult or immature Beck’s Petrel, off Cape St George, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, August 2007.

more pictures of this bird needed. Anyone wishing to go to the Pacific????

Red List Category & Criteria: CR D ver 3.1 (2001)
Year Assessed: 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 1994)
2000 - Critically Endangered (BirdLife International 2000)

BirdLife International 2004. Pseudobulweria becki. In: IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 16 April 2008..

Beck’s Petrel, Pseudobulweria becki, is a small, recently rediscovered gadfly petrel.
It is dark brown above and on the head and throat. It is dark underneath the wings
with a fairly distinct white wingbar.
The belly and breast are white. It flies over open oceans with straight wings
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 Beck.

This bird used to be known from only two specimens – a female east of New Ireland in 1928
and a male north-east of Rendova, Solomon Islands in 1929.
In 2006, a bird possibly of this species was photographed in Australia's Coral Sea.

Like other tubenoses, Beck’s Petrel is potentially threatened by logging and forest clearance for oil-palm plantations.
© Rhett 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 on seabirds,
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 Archipelago,
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.
Text from http://en.wikipedia.org

Hadoram Shirihai
Recently fledged juvenile Beck’s Petrel, off Cape St George, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, August 2007.

Beck’s Petrel flies back from extinction
BirdLife International, 06-03-2008

A bird that was known only from two records from the 1920s has been discovered
in the Pacific after a gap of 79 years.
Sightings of the Critically Endangered Beck’s Petrel Pseudobulweria becki published
by the British Ornithologists' Club, have finally proven the species is still in existence,
and delighted conservationists.

A voyage into the Bismarck Archipelago, north-east of Papua New Guinea,
successfully managed to photograph more than 30 of these elusive seabirds.
This included sightings of fledged juveniles - suggesting recent breeding.
A freshly dead young bird salvaged at sea also becomes only the third specimen in existence.

Bull. BOC
Map of the route followed by the successful voyage in July-August 2007.
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 Beck’s 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.

Like other tubenoses, Beck’s 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 remain speculative.

Forest clearing in forest area near oil palm plantations in Kalimantan Photo by R. Butler

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.
One problem that arises, is that cattle often are let into the new plant area,
eating what comes up...... However, fences could be built.
From Mongobay.com


over 250


over 500


over 225
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