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Procellaria is a genus of Southern Ocean long-winged seabirds related to prions, and within the order Procellariiformes. The Black Petrel (Procellaria parkinsoni) ranges in the Pacific Ocean, and as far north as Central America. The Spectacled Petrel (Procellaria consicillata) is confined to the Atlantic Ocean, and the Westland Petrel (Procellaria westlandica) to the Pacific Ocean. The White-chinned (Procellaria aequincotialis) and Grey Petrel (Procellaria cinerea) range throughout the higher latitudes of the Southern Ocean.

Procellaria hasitata.jpg
Grey petrel (Procellaria cinerea)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Procellariiformes
Family: Procellariidae
Genus: Procellaria
Linnaeus, 1758


Procellaria is a member of the family Procellariidae and the order Procellariiformes. As members of Procellariiformes, they share certain characteristics. First they have tubular nostrils called naricorns. This feature gives them their common name, tubenoses. The opening to the nostril is located differently in some birds. These birds have the opening on top of the upper bill. Second, they produce a stomach oil that contains wax esters and triglycerides. This oil fills two functions. When predators threaten the birds or their chick or egg, they spit the substance on them. This substance has an awful smell, and mats the feathers down, degrading their usefulness. Also, they can digest the wax esters for a high energy source of food, during long flights or the period of time that they are incubating their egg or caring for their young. They also have a uniquely structured bill, with seven to nine distinct horny plates.[1] Finally, they have a salt gland that is located above their nasal passages and helps desalinate their body, as they drink seawater. They excrete the salty waste out their nose.[2]


There are five species, and all five species are named petrel, although they were thought to be more closely related to the shearwaters and current research places them closer to the prions.[citation needed]


Procellaria comes from two Latin words, procella meaning "a storm" and arius a suffix meaning "pertaining to". This is in reference to their association with stormy weather. The word petrel is derived from St. Peter and the story of his walking on water. This is in reference to the petrel's habit of appearing to run on the water to take off.[5]

Range and habitatEdit

They range from the cold waters of the Southern Ocean to temperate waters, and are pelagic except during the breeding season.


These tubenoses fly like shearwaters, with stiff wings and shearing technique across wave fronts. This technique saves energy.[6] During breeding season they utilize coastal cliffs on islands, laying their single egg in a burrow.


Of the five species, four of them are listed as vulnerable and the last is near threatened.[7]


  1. ^ Double, M. C. (2003)
  2. ^ Ehrlich, Paul R. (1988)
  3. ^ a b c d e Clements, James (2007)
  4. ^ ZipCode Zoo (19 Jun 2009a)
  5. ^ Gotch, A. T. (1995)
  6. ^ ZipCode Zoo (19 Jun 2009)
  7. ^ BirdLife International (2009)


  • BirdLife International (2009). "Search for Procellariiformes". Data Zone. Retrieved 17 Jul 2009.
  • Clements, James (2007). The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World (6 ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-4501-9.
  • Double, M. C. (2003). "Procellariiformes (Tubenosed Seabirds)". In Hutchins, Michael; Jackson, Jerome A.; Bock, Walter J.; Olendorf, Donna (eds.). Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. 8 Birds I Tinamous and Ratites to Hoatzins. Joseph E. Trumpey, Chief Scientific Illustrator (2nd ed.). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group. pp. 107–111. ISBN 0-7876-5784-0.
  • Ehrlich, Paul R.; Dobkin, David, S.; Wheye, Darryl (1988). The Birders Handbook (First ed.). New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. pp. 29–31. ISBN 0-671-65989-8.
  • Gotch, A. F. (1995) [1979]. "Albatrosses, Fulmars, Shearwaters, and Petrels". Latin Names Explained A Guide to the Scientific Classifications of Reptiles, Birds & Mammals. New York, NY: Facts on File. pp. 191–192. ISBN 0-8160-3377-3.
  • Harrison, Peter (1996). Seabirds of the World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01551-1.
  • ZipCode Zoo (19 Jun 2009). "Procellaria (Genus)". BayScience Foundation. Retrieved 26 Jul 2009.
  • ZipCode Zoo (19 Jun 2009a). "Procellaria conspicillata (Spectacled Petrel)". BayScience Foundation. Retrieved 22 Jul 2009.