Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Trindade Petrel - Pterodroma arminjoniana
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General Comments This species has a checkered taxonomic history, in part because what is considered as the "Herald Petrel" has breeding populations in the Pacific, south Atlantic, and the Indian oceans. Though originally it was mistakenly named the South Trinidad Petrel (misspelling of Trindade Island off Brazil where it nests), nearly all recent authorities have split the "Herald Petrel" into several species. The species found in the Atlantic and Indian oceans is now the Trindade Petrel, though retaining the original scientific name. (The taxon in the Pacific Ocean retains the Herald Petrel common name but is now Pterodroma heraldica).

Interestingly, the Trindade Petrel has several color phases, with the dark phase (overall sooty color) being most often seen off North Carolina; light phase birds are somewhat less numerous. These color phases are not related to subspecies/species differences, as the Atlantic populations contain all of such color phases. North Carolina probably has over 95% of all records of this species in North American waters, and birders travel from all over the continent to the state to look for Trindade, Fea's, Bermuda, and Black-capped petrels, among many other Gulf Stream specialties. The Trindade Petrel is seen almost exclusively over warm Gulf Stream waters off of Oregon and Hatteras inlets, essentially between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Even though the American Birding Association recommends the species' name should be pronounced "treeng-DAH-jee", this is the Portuguese pronunciation. The English pronunciation should have been given by ABA, but it wasn't. From Google, information provided there says that the English pronunciation "would be something like 'Treendahdee'". I would nearly agree -- English speaking people don't pronounce the short "i" as "ee" as they do in Latin America; and, thus we should pronounce it "trin-DAH-dee".

Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G4
Coastal Plain Offshore visitor. Rare but regular in the warmer months, seen a handful of times annually, with well over 100 records; essentially all from Gulf Stream waters on pelagic trips out of Oregon and Hatteras inlets. There are no records of birds, alive or dead, seen from shore. However, there is one inland record -- one photographed at Buckhorn Reservoir (Wilson) on 15 Sep 2018, following passage of Hurricane Florence* [Chat 83:29-30 link]. (The species has been found twice at Kerr Reservoir, VA, just over the state line, after hurricanes in Sep.) The only records south of Hatteras Inlet are of one off New Hanover on 3 Aug 1999, and two photographed from a cruise ship 190 miles southeast of Cape Lookout (Carteret) on 27 May 2022. Mid-May to early Oct; most records late May to early June, and again in Aug, though this may be in part due to frequency of pelagic trips. Peak counts: 6, off Oregon Inlet, 24 Aug 2023; 5, from a research vessel well off Dare, 18 Aug 2013; 4, off Hatteras Inlet, 26 Aug 2000; 4, off Hatteras Inlet, 1 Jun 2020; 3 on five other dates.
Piedmont No records.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips You need to take a birding pelagic trip off Hatteras or Oregon inlets. Late May into early September are the times, and you stand fair chance (but far below 50-50) of seeing one on a single trip; better to go ahead and sign up for two trips over a weekend, if you are traveling a long distance to the Outer Banks.
* to **
Attribution LeGrand[2024-02-10], LeGrand[2023-03-15], LeGrand[2022-09-12]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
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