birding-aus Re: Giant petrel ID

Subject: birding-aus Re: Giant petrel ID
From: "P.J. Milburn" <>
Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 22:00:02 +1000
Dear Ausbirders

Northern and Southern  Giant-Petrels were given specific status in 1972 or
thereabouts.  Until then apparently  most people didn't pay too much
attention to subtlties but now we find it incumbent upon oursleves as
birders to attempt to identify them in the field.  For the most part this
is relatively straightforward in Australian waters given the appropriate
views.  It should come as no suprise however that occasionally one
encounters individuals which defy specific identification, particularly
when dealing with juveniles and something as subtle as the hue (colour
seems too strong a description) of the ungues.  As Rod points out at any
sort of distance one must be happy to have seen Macronectes sp.  and
recording this information accurately remains important.  Beyond this,
entire populations may even defy specific identification based solely upon
morphology; the Gough Island population being a prime example as Lindsay
Smith often reminds me!  These birds are apparently intermediate in form
between the 2 current species.


Dr.Peter Milburn
Biomolecular Resource Facility
The Australian National University
GPO Box 334 Canberra ACT 0200  AUSTRALIA
Phone No.  <61> <2> 6249 4326
Fax No.    <61> <2> 6249 4326
E-mail Address  

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