in the region should be aware that the dark phase Herald [Trinidade] Petrel,
arminjoniana, of South
Trinidade Island has been documented
in summer from the Outer Continental Shelf of the Southeastern United
this species is also expected to occur in the West Indies region.
Although the two species are not closely related, its size and dark phased plumage are superficially
similar to that of the Jamaica Petrel. At sea sightings of reported
Jamaica Petrels need to be evaluated with caution.
Dr. Bernard Zonfrillo of Glasgow University provided the following description which we substitute for our previous description:
"A completely dark brown Pterodroma
Gadfly petrel with a silvery grey rump area. Bears little resemblence
to the Black-capped Petrel that has a gleaming white ventral plumage
and a white forehead, neck rign, and rump area. So-called "dark phase"
Black-capped Petrels have a reduced or absent neck collar. Similarly
dark brown Pterodroma petrels possible in the area might include the Trinidade Petrel Pt. arminjoniana and the Kermadec Petrel Pt. negecta."
To distinguish a
Jamaica Petrel from the Trinidade Petrel, the dark morph Trinidade
would have white on the leading edge of the underwing, white in the
tips of the primary and secondary underwing coverts, and white in the
bases of the underside of the primaries and secondaries. The Jamaica
Petrel lacked this white underwing feathering. Similarly, a dark-morph
Kermadec Petrel has white in the underside of the primaries, on the
face adjacent to the bill, around the eyes, and on the leading edge of
the underwing. The only light coloration on the Jamaica Petrel was the
descriptions but assumed to be similar in plumage to adult.
taxonomic relationship of this petrel for decades remained unclear with
many authors considering it to be a dark form of the Black-capped
Petrel. Recent evaluations however have shown the Jamaica Petrel to be
a distinct smaller species more closely related to the Cape Verde
Petrel. This is further supported by the bird’s feather lice which show
considerable differences with those of Black-capped Petrels. DNA
analysis is warranted but there is little question that this is a
collections, the imaginations of cryptozoologists, and in the clouded
minds of overly optimistic conservationists (just kidding - we maintain
some hope that this species persists on some remote cliff of
Mountain Duck, Dry Land Booby (Jamaica)
documented as breeding in mountains of eastern Jamaica. While all
records and most recent searches have been in the Blue Mountains,
Jamaica’s remote John Crow Mountains were also likely to have supported
nesting populations. Additionally, historical accounts of other dark
petrels are available for other islands in the region (Dominica and
Guadeloupe). The early literature is not specific, and these birds
might well have been Audubon’s Shearwaters.
information. Single report by Bond of a possible sighting west of the
Bahamian Islands in 1936 (but see Identification). Based on other Pterodroma, highly
pelagic and exhibiting long distant dispersal after breeding season.
documentation from Blue Mountains at elevations between 1050-1600
meters, possibly as low as 1,000 meters (1866-1892). Burrow nesting
species; burrows 1.8-3 meters in length. Based on scant information
assumed to be a winter breeder and, like other Pterodroma,
a single egg species with a protracted breeding season. The
introduction of the Indian mongoose (1872) is believed to be
responsible for the species demise, but human predation and the
introduction of dogs and pigs to Jamaica 200 years prior to the
mongoose must have also taken their toll.
Nocturnal, breeding season started in September, with young hatching in
Feb-March and fledging by July.
to be extinct. No evidence of occurrence after 1891-1892 reports of
mongooses found in the empty petrel burrows.
Searches for the species in recent times (1964 to
present) have not uncovered extant populations. However, other species
of petrels, long believed to be extinct, have been rediscovered in
remote areas of oceanic islands. The recent rediscovery of the Jamaican
another species long believed to be extinct, in a remote area of the
island, is testament to the fact that the country continues to produce
Searches off the coast of Jamaica in 2009 using fish oil to attract petrels have indicated that Black-capped Petrels are abundant in the waters off Jamaica,
but found no Jamaica Petrels. Some scientists have interpreted flight
of petrels at dusk towards the Jamaican coastline to indicate that that
species nest on Jamaica, but there is no evidence of nesting there and
there has never been a report or specimen of Black-capped Petrel on
bird is only known from a handful of anecdotal accounts and a few
specimens distributed in a number of museums throughout the world. Life
history information is lacking. Searches for extant nesting populations
should continue. Because of the vocal nature of breeding Pterodroma,
nocturnal surveys would best be focused on documentation by
vocalizations. Additionally local inhabitants of the Blue and John Crow
Mountains should be interviewed regarding the possible current or
recent presence of this species. If found, and the sites of occurrence
are documented, they need immediate protection and predator control.
Funding for wardens and other protection should be relatively easy to
obtain due to the high profile of this endemic species.
recently formed Jamaican Petrel Research Group has undertaken surveys
of the adjacent ocean, offshore islets and local mountains in hopes of
finding extant populations.
on recovery of fossil and sub-fossil specimens of other species of
petrels of conservation concern in the West Indies and elsewhere,
systematic surveys of caves and similar shelters in the Blue Mountains
would be a worth while effort that could shed light on former abundance
and distribution of this bird in Jamaica.
The Blue Mountains of Jamaica
R. P. 1965. The missing petrels. Bulletin of the British
Ornithologists’ Club 85: 6.
A. 1866. On an undescribed species of petrel from the Blue Mountains of
Jamaica. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 1866: 93-95.
N. J. et al.1992. Threatened Birds of the Americas – ICBP/IUCN Red Data
book, 3rd ed. P. 2. International Council for Bird Preservation,
L. 2000. Status of the Jamaican Petrel in the West Indies. Pags 19-24 in
E. A. Schreiber and D. D. Lee (eds) Status and Conservation of West
Indian Seabirds. Society of Caribbean Ornithology, Special Publication
Number 1. 225 pp.
M. J. 1985. Origins, phylogeny and taxonomy of the gadfly petrels
Pterodroma spp. Ibis 127: 197-229.
M. J. 1991. The Jamaican Petrel – Dead or Alive. Gosse Bird Club
Broadsheet No. 57: 4-9.
D. S. 1979. Second record of the South Trinadad Petrel (Pterdroma arninjoniana)
for North America. American Birds 33: 138-139.
D. B. 1964. Does the “Blue Mountain Duck” of Jamaica survive? Gosse
Bird Club Broadsheet No. 2 1-2.
B. 1993. Relationships of the Pterodroma Petrels from the Madeira
Archipelago inferred from their feather lice. Bol. Mun.
Supp. No. 2, 325-331.
Douglas supplied the photo of this petrel.
Indian Breeding Seabird Atlas by Will
Mackin and David Lee is licensed
under a Creative
Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States
License. Based on
work at www.wicbirds.net.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.wicbirds.net.
Citation: Lee, D. S., W. A. Mackin, Zonfrillo, B. 2014. Jamaica Petrel. West Indian
Breeding Seabird Atlas
<http://www.wicbirds.net/jape.html>. Last Updated: _____.
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