Petrels and Prions

There are different types of Petrels and Prions, they come in all sizes, colours and have different shaped beaks.  Something these birds do have in common is they are seabirds and their legs are specially designed for living at sea and not walking on land. Often when found their rescuers think their legs are broken because of the way in which they walk.

When found these birds do require help as they cannot take flight once grounded.  They will not feed themselves when on the ground or if taken into care so they do require specialist help.  

Provided these birds when found have not been injured, their weight is good and so is the weather, rescue centres try to have them on their way within 12 to 36 hours.

Should anyone find a Petrel or Prion we ask that they pick it up, place it on a soft towel in a box which has air holes already made, and put it somewhere quiet.  Contact a bird rescue centre as soon as possible for further advice.

Keep a lookout for the Cook’s Petrel

Their migration is usually around March but can be earlier…

Cook’s Petrel were once common throughout both North and South Islands but are restricted to Little Barrier, Codfish Island and a small population on Great Barrier.


The birds, about the size of a pigeon, are silver, white and grey with a sharp, black hooked beak. They migrate to New Zealand each breeding season between August and October.

To avoid New Zealand’s winter, from as early as January through to April, they fly as far as Chile, California and the northern Atlantic. When the Cook’s Petrel, mainly juveniles, start leaving their burrows to begin their migratory journey they do so at night.

Because the birds fly and feed at night they very often get attracted to city lights. When this happens they become disoriented, tired and need to land. Once on the ground they cannot take flight again. This is why many of the Cook’s Petrels are often found grounded in and around the Auckland area.