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Northern Giant Petrel


Northern giant petrel (Macronectes halli)

Northern Giant Petrel
The same size as the southern giant petrel. Has a more laboured flight and tends to flap more than the albatrosses, which are more efficient gliders. Adult birds have a brownish tip to their beaks, which is the distinguishing feature from the southern giant. Also called Nelly bird as its aggressive antics amuses fisherman. Closely related to the albatross. Circumpolar, but unlike the southern giant, breeds on many of New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands and is a predator of smaller seabirds. Much rarer than the southern giant petrel overall (i.e. small world population), yet more common than the southern giant in coastal waters around New Zealand.

Sighted off Kaikoura throughout the year. Generally seen alone soaring on ocean swells, unless there is a dead seal or the birds are scavenging on the food remains brought to the surface by sperm whales or fur seals. Groups of up to nine birds or more can also be seen scavenging around fishing boats.