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the web of life in southern Africa

Pterodroma macroptera (Great-winged petrel) 

Langvlerkstormvoël [Afrikaans]; Langvleugelstormvogel [Dutch]; Pétrel noir [French]; Langflügel-sturmvogel [German]; Freira-d'asas-grandes [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Ciconiiformes > Family: Procellariidae

Pterodroma macroptera (Great-winged petrel)   

Great-winged petrel, offshore from Cape Town, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]


Distribution and habitat

Breeds on sub-Antarctic islands and islands off New Zealand and south-west Australia, after which it disperse across southern oceans from 20-48° South. It is common in across southern African waters, although more scarce off Mozambique and northern Namibia.

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of Catharacta antarctica (Subantarctic skua) at its breeding colonies.

Movements and migrations

Breeds in winter from about February and August, while present in southern African waters from September-May, with numbers peaking from November-March.


It mainly eats squid, supplemented with crustaceans, carrion, tunicates and fish, doing most of its foraging at night, grabbing prey from the water surface. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • squid
    • Histioteuthis
    • Taonius
    • Psychroteuthis glacialis
  • fish
  • crustaceans
  • tunicates
  • carrion


Not threatened although previously listed as Vulnerable, partly because the Domestic cats (Felis catus) have been removed from its Marion Island colony. However the Tristan da Cunha colony has seriously decreased in size due to predation of chicks by introduced rats (Rattus) and human exploitation.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.