Hawaiian Petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis)

Common Name: Hawaiian Petrel

Scientific Name: Pterodroma sandwichensis
SizeDietRange in HawaiiStatus in Hawaii
36 in.small fish, squid, and other invertebratesAll IslandsEndangered

The Hawaiian petrel (Pterodroma sandwichensis), also known as the `u`au in Hawaiian, is a seabird that is native to Hawaii. It is a member of the Procellariidae family, which includes other seabirds such as albatrosses and shearwaters.

Hawaiian Petrel


The Hawaiian petrel is a medium-sized seabird with a wingspan of about 3 feet, which is approximately 36 inches and weighs about 12 ounces. It has a black head, a white throat and breast, and gray wings and tail. Its upperparts are dark gray, and it has a short, hooked bill and long, pointed wings.

The Hawaiian petrel has a distinctive, petrel-like appearance, with a stocky body and long, narrow wings. It is generally uniform in color, with a white belly and a dark mantle. Juvenile Hawaiian petrels are similar in appearance to adults, but they may have a brownish tinge to their upperparts and a paler breast.


The Hawaiian petrel is a carnivorous bird, and it feeds on a variety of marine animals, including small fish, squid, and other invertebrates.


The Hawaiian petrel is a nocturnal bird, and it is active mainly at night. It is a solitary bird and is generally found alone or in pairs, although it may occasionally gather in small groups when foraging for food. The Hawaiian petrel is a migratory bird, and it may travel long distances in search of food.

It is known to follow concentrations of prey, such as schools of small fish, and it is capable of adapting to changes in its environment and available food sources. The Hawaiian petrel has a distinctive, petrel-like flight, with strong, steady wing beats and long glides. It is a strong and agile flier, and it is capable of negotiating strong winds and rough seas.

The Hawaiian petrel is a vocal bird, and it has a distinctive, wailing call that is often heard at night. It is also known to make a variety of other vocalizations, including whistles, clicks, and chattering sounds.


The Hawaiian petrel is a colonial nester, and it breeds in large colonies on islands in the Hawaiian archipelago. It nests in burrows or natural cavities in the ground, and it may also use man-made structures, such as culverts or abandoned buildings, as nesting sites.

The Hawaiian petrel is a monogamous bird, and it forms long-term pair bonds with a mate. Both the male and female participate in nest construction and incubation of the eggs. The female typically lays one egg per year, and both parents take turns incubating it.

The egg hatches after about 50 days, and the chick is cared for by both parents until it fledges, which typically occurs after about 80 days.


The Hawaiian petrel can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and coastal areas.


The Hawaiian petrel is native to the Hawaiian Islands and is found throughout the archipelago. It is found on all of the main islands, including Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, Big Island.

Conservation Status

The Hawaiian petrel is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is also listed as endangered under the United States Endangered Species Act.

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Interesting Facts

1. They are active predator

The Hawaiian petrel is an active predator and is known to pursue and capture prey while in flight. It forages for food by diving into the water and scooping up prey with its bill.

2. Baby Hawaiian petrel is altricial

They are altricial, which means that they are born in a relatively undeveloped state and require a lot of care and attention from their parents in order to grow and develop.

3. Their chicks were once considered a delicacy

The Hawaiian petrel chicks of these birds were once considered a delicacy by the early residents of the Hawaiian Islands.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long do Hawaiian petrels live?

The Hawaiian petrel is a long-lived bird, and individuals may live for over 20 years.

How many Hawaiian petrels are left?

The population of Hawaiian petrels is believed to be declining, but it is difficult to estimate their exact numbers as they breed in remote areas and are difficult to census. It is thought that there may be fewer than 10,000 Hawaiian petrels remaining in the wild.

How fast can a Hawaiian petrel fly?

Hawaiian petrels are capable of strong, sustained flight and are able to travel long distances over open ocean. They are believed to be able to fly at speeds of up to 50 mph (80 km/h) or more when in migration.