Cape Verde Petrel Pterodroma feae


Justification of Red List Category
This newly split species is listed as Near Threatened because it breeds on only four islands, where it faces a number of threats, although there is presently no evidence for an overall decline. Nevertheless, its restricted breeding range leaves it moderately susceptible to stochastic events and human impacts.

Population justification
An estimated 500-1,000 pairs breed on the Cape Verde Islands (Hazevoet 1995, Ratcliffe et al. 2000), although this must be regarded as an absolute minimum, as further colonies probably exist on Fogo and Santa Antão, and individuals have also been observed breeding in the central mountain range of Santiago Island (Ratcliffe et al. 2000) and in the PN Serra Malagueta (Santiago). Until further data are available, the population is estimated at 1,000-2,000 mature individuals, assumed to equate to 1,500-3,000 individuals in total.

Trend justification
Although a further analysis is necessary to assess the current population trend, preliminary results of data collected on Fogo reflect a decline due to a number of threats, which are likely to be similar in the four breeding islands since all of them are inhabited by rural communities (Militão et al. 2016, 2017).

Distribution and population

Pterodroma feae breeds on four islands of Cape Verde: Fogo (50 pairs estimated; Militão et al. 2016, 2017), Santo Antão (minimum 200 pairs; Ratcliffe et al. 2000), São Nicolau (c.30 pairs; Ratcliffe et al. 2000) and Santiago (50 pairs estimated, J. González-Solís in litt.). An estimated 500-1,000 pairs breed in Cape Verde (Hazevoet 1995, Ratcliffe et al. 2000), although the population is likely to exceed this estimate (Ratcliffe et al. 2000).


It breeds in mountainous, rocky areas up to 2,200 m. Previously, it also bred in mountain woodland, but this habitat no longer remains (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Egg laying takes place from mid January to mid February (Militão et al. 2016). The species is mainly oceanic (J. González-Solís in litt.), but remains close to the breeding area during the non-breeding season (Ramos et al. 2016).


The Cape Verde Petrel is susceptible to invasive predators, especially feral cats Felis catus, which continue to take adults and chicks on Fogo (Militão et al. 2017) and were anecdotally responsible for a dramatic reduction in the numbers breeding on São Nicholau in the latter part of the 20th century (Ratcliffe et al. 2000). Birds are also likely predated by rats and dogs, and breeding sites are limited by overgrazing by goats (Barov and Derhé 2011). The species is also collected by humans for food and medicinal purposes. Light-induced mortality impacts are known from several related species, but there are very few light sources that may pose a problem for the species near the breeding grounds (Militão et al. 2017), but it presents a potential threat if light spill is not considered and controlled in any new development, particularly in the northeast of the island (Militão et al. 2017).


Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway A European action plan was published in 1996 (Zino et al. 1996) and its implementation reviewed in 2010 (Barov and Derhé 2011), although the plans and review included both P. feae and P. deserta since they were prepared before the split of these taxa. A national park was established at Chã das Caldeiras on Fogo (D. Menezes and P. Oliveira in litt. 2007). The conservation of Pterodroma feae was incorporated into the park's agenda (Ratcliffe et al. 2000, D. Menezes and P. Oliveira in litt. 2007), but the park administration has had to deal with serious financial and operational problems (D. Menezes and P. Oliveira in litt. 2007). The park is involved in the basic monitoring of the population in Fogo since 2010 and in Serra Malagueta (Santiago) since 2014.

Conservation Actions Proposed Conduct coordinated surveys to obtain an up-to-date estimate for the total breeding population. Continue annual surveys to monitor population trends. Study the at-sea distribution of the species. Study the impacts of various threats. Discourage off-take by people on the Cape Verde Islands through awareness campaigns. Control cats, rats and goats on the Cape Verde Islands. Control the expansion of public illumination and lights associated to main infrastructures (hotels, football courts, ports, etc).


35 cm. Medium-sized grey and white gadfly petrel. Grey upperparts with dark cap and dark M across wings. White underparts with indistinct pale grey half collar across upper breast. Predominantly dark grey-brown underwing. Similar spp. Zino's Petrel P. madeira is virtually identical but has a narrower, shorter bill and shorter wings. P. desertas appears identical but there are subtle vocal differences. Voice On breeding grounds a range of wailing, cackling, ululating and hiccuping calls. Silent at sea.


Text account compilers
Peet, N., Shutes, S., Stuart, A., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Fjagesund, T., Anderson, O., Hermes, C., Derhé, M., Martin, R., Moreno, R., Capper, D., O'Brien, A.

Militão, T., Geraldes, P., Ramirez, I., González-Solís, J., Sultana, J., Gangloff, B., Oliveira, P., Bourne, W., Menezes, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Pterodroma feae. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/02/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/02/2023.