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Cape Petrel


Cape petrel (Daption capense australe)

Cape Petrel
One of the most distinctively coloured petrel species with a mottled black and white colouration. Also commonly known as cape pigeons because of the way they bob their head back and forth like feral pigeons in parks and because of their presence around the windswept Cape Horn. Yet the name cape pgeon is misleading as they are a petrel who breed on small rocky islets around the Antarctic continent and on the Snares Islands south of Stewart Island. Undoubtedly the most conspicuous petrel species around the waters of the South Island because of their colouration and habit of following all types of boats, especially fishing boats, in search of food scraps.

Cape petrels are seen off Kaikoura throughout the year with flocks of hundreds of birds seen from late autumn to early spring, having moved north from the waters around Antarctica and New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands. They are the noisiest petrel species at sea (most petrels are silent at sea) and flocks can be heard making a distinctive chuckling sound. They are attracted around feeding whales and fur seals and keep an eye open for any food scraps.