Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Bermuda Petrel - Pterodroma cahow
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General Comments The Bermuda Petrel is the rarest of the four Pterodroma petrels found somewhat regularly off the Atlantic coast of the United States, and nearly all records for the country are from the Gulf Stream waters off North Carolina. This species, which nests only on Bermuda, often goes by its former common name of Cahow. For over 200 years, it was thought to be possibly extinct, until rediscovered in Bermuda in 1935. Thanks to it being listed as Endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, intensive management, such as control of predators near the nesting burrows, has taken place; and the population is slowly rebounding, though total numbers are only in the low hundreds. The first state report was in 1983, but now, owing to several dozen pelagic trips taken annually between May and Sep, the species is seen nearly every year now. Nevertheless, it is a very rarely seen species and is always a red-letter bird.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status E
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G1
Coastal Plain Offshore visitor. Very rare, but now seen almost annually, though no records from 2010-2012. Occurs in the Gulf Stream, where all state records are from off Oregon and Hatteras inlets. At least 30 records, late May to late Aug, with the exception of one, off Oregon Inlet, 18 Apr 1983, and another (or different birds) off Hatteras, 8-9 May 2019. Peak count: 2, off Hatteras Inlet, 27 May 2002.
Piedmont No records.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips As with all Pterodroma petrels, you need to get far offshore, taking organized pelagic trips out of Hatteras or Oregon inlets between late May and early Sep. This is a tougher find than Herald and Fea's, and it may take 10 or more such trips to see your first. Don't give up, but you have no control over finding one -- luck and a lot of good eyes on-board the boat have to be with you!
Attribution LeGrand[2019-11-04], LeGrand[2019-08-14], LeGrand[2018-02-01]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.