There are two subspecies of fulmar prions, pyramidalis which breeds at the Chathams, and crassirostris which breeds at the Bounty, Snares, Auckland and Heard (South Atlantic) Islands.
According to Fleming, the fulmar prion is a subantarctic relative of the fairy prion, P. turtur, of more temperate seas, differing in its large size and more bulbous bill structure. It was taken at the Bounty Islands by Andreas Reischek and the collector Bills last century (19th), and photographed by G.A. Buddle in 1907, but it was not seperated from the fairy prion until Mathews described it as a subspecies in his Birds of Australia, 1912. When Fleming in 1939 discovered that a population of P. crassirostris nested at the Chatham Islands, meeting there a race of P. turtur with an earlier breeding season, the specific status of the Fulmar prion was finally confirmed.
The fairy prion overlaps the fulmar prion at both the Chathams and the Snares without any indication of interbreeding. Indeed, says Fleming, the two species choose rather different nesting places: the fairy prion commonly burrows in peat and soil whereas the fulmar prion generally occupies crevices on rocky islets exposed to the violence of the westerly winds and storms of the Southern Ocean. Moreoever, like other prions the fairy prion is nocturnal but the fulmar prion is diurnal at its New Zealand nesting places, resting on rocks in the open and flying ashore by day.
Other common names: —
cliff prion, thick-billed prion
26cm, 140g, like the fairy prion but larger and paler.
Where to find: —
Breeds at the Bounty, Snares, Auckland and Heard (South Atlantic) Islands.
Illustration description: —
Lodge, George, The Unpublished NZ Bird Paintings, Fleming, C., 1982
Heather, B., & Robertson, H., Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, 2000.
Readers Digest Complete Book of NZ Birds, 1985.
Olliver, W.R.B., New Zealand Birds, 1955.
Fleming, C., The Unpublished NZ Bird Paintings, 1982.
Page date & version: —
Monday, 2 June 2014; ver2009v1