1540. Daption capensis

1540. Daption capensis.

The Cape Petrel.

Procellaria capensis, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 213 (1766). Daption capensis, Steph. in Shaw's Gen. Zool. xiii, pt. 1, p. 241, pl. 28; Hume, Ibis, 1870, p. 438 ; id. S. F. vii, pp. 442, 463; id: Cat. no. 975 ter; Legge, Birds Ceyl, p. 1056; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 438; Salvin, Cat. B. M. xxv, p. 428.

Coloration, Head all round and hind neck brownish black; upper parts white, each feather broadly tipped with black, except the smaller wing-coverts and the primary-coverts, which are blackish throughout; quills and tail-feathers white with long black tips, the outer webs of the earlier primaries also blackish ; lower parts from the throat white, the feathers of the throat and lower tail-coverts more or less spotted with dusky.

Bill black ; irides brown ; legs and feet deep brown, the toes spotted at the side with whitish (Legge).

Length about 16; tail 4; wing 10.25; tarsus 1.7; bill from gape 1.6.

Distribution. This Petrel, known to sailors as the " Cape Pigeon," is common throughout the Southern Oceans, but is of rare occurrence north of the Equator. A single individual, of which the skin is preserved in the Hume Collection, was shot by Mr. Theobald in the Gulf of Manaar, between Ceylon and the mainland.

It is certain that the Petrels above described are not the only species that frequent the seas of India. Reference has already been made in the account of Puffinus chlororhynchus to a doubtful species once obtained by Jerdon at Madras. Then Hume (S. F ii, p. 317) saw, near Preparis and the Cocos, on the 4th March, 1873, several blue and white Petrels, probably a species of Prion. They were known to the officers of the ship as " Whale Birds." A bird known by the same name is said by Butler to occur on the Baluch¬istan coast (S. P. v, p. 304). Again it is extremely doubtful whether all the small " Stormy Petrels" so "frequently seen in the upper part of the Bay of Bengal (S. F. ii, p. 317) are Oceanites oceanicus or Cymodroma melanogaster. I have a distinct recollection, when on my way from Calcutta to Madras by steamer on one occasion, about 1867, of seeing, only a few yards away from the vessel, several small Petrels that appeared to want the conspicuous white rump of those two species, and my recollection is confirmed by a note in pencil on the margin of my copy of Jerdon. It is far from improbable that some kind of Oceanodroma, of which several species occur in the North Pacific, may be found in the Bay of Bengal.

Lastly, there is the bird seen by Sundevall and identified by him as Halodroma or Pelecanoides urinatrix *. Jerdon (B. I. iii, p. 827), who has been followed by Hume (Cat. no. 977) and Oates (B. B. ii, p. 440), admits the species as Indian. The locality was also given in Blyth's Catalogue, p. 295. The following is Sundevall's account:—

" In the southern parts of the Bay of Bengal I saw several times in December and January a bird which could hardly be anything else than the above-mentioned (P. urinatrix). The colour and form were clearly distinguished through the telescope at less than 100 ells distance. It was blackish grey, beneath and under the wings white, with projecting nostrils, and was but little larger than Alca alle (the Little Auk), which it resembled in its exterior. Two or three were commonly seen together resting on the water, from which they occasionally arose and flapped with their wings like ducks. They dived remarkably well and long, like Alca and Uria, and flew heavily with a rapid motion of the wings for a short distance close over the surface."

That some bird not yet identified, probably a Petrel, was seen is evident, but as no specimen was obtained it is premature to identify this with a species of very weak powers of flight, and only found, so far as is known, in latitudes considerably south of the Equator.

* Physiogr. Sallskapets Tidsk. i, p. 222 (1837); A. M. N. H. xix, p. 238.

The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds
Blanford, William Thomas, ed. The Fauna of British India: Including Ceylon and Burma. Vol. 4. 1898.
Title in Book: 
1540. Daption capensis
Book Author: 
William Thomas Blanford
Page No: 
Common name: 
Cape Petrel
Cape Petrel
Daption capense
Vol. 4
Term name: 

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