A Shearwater in Oman

Help wanted, and appreciated!

Perzische ? Pijlstormvogel

Persian ? Sheaerwater

Puffinus persicus, P. bailloni, nicolae, ??

Found in: As Salituiyat, Oman, N 20.22, E 57.84, North of Duqm, Oman

Date: 14 November 2000

Measurements from fresh bird in mm (not accurate)

Wing length (body to top)




Body length


Wing length







30 ?




Local people with the fresh found bird

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The bird from below O_1088.jpg (46379 bytes)
The tail, far longer than a Persian Shearwater.

See comment of C. Roselaar

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E-mail of Drs Kees Roselaar, Zoological Museum, University of Amsterdam to Vincent Bretagnolle, CNRS - CEBC, Centre d'études Biologiques de Chizé, UPR 1934 - BP14


Dear Dr Bretagnolle,

Last week we received for our collection a small shearwater of the size of P. bailloni, found by  Mr Rudolf Kampf at As Salituiyat (N of Duqm), Oman, on 14 Nov 2000. Alas, Mr Kampf had collected the wings only (wing length 199 mm), but he supplied also measurements (tarsus 40 mm, mid-toe 42 mm, bill to gape 42 mm), as well as some photographs which are available also on his website.

It is a small petrel very similar to P. bailloni (or P. 'atrodorsalis') to me, with very white underparts (including under tail-coverts), not as  dark on the underwing and under tail as P. persicus. The problem now is, that when measuring the tail from the photographs in relation to the known length of the wing or tarsus I get a length of the tail of 93 to 96 mm, far longer than any known population of small shearwater from the Indian Ocean, except perhaps P. temptator (which appears to be more extensively dark below), though not unlike the tail of extralimital Caribbean P. lherminieri. Tail-lengths of P. bailloni (I measured tail as 73-79 mm in 12 birds in Tring, Paris,and Leiden), P. atrodorsalis (I measured 79 mm), and P persicus (69-74 mm) are clearly smaller. Have you any idea how we should label our wings, or do you think the bird is unidentifiable?

Yours sincerely

Kees Roselaar

Answer of Dr. Bretagnolle:

According to the photos, and also to my files (birds measured alive or in Museums), it will be hard to identify definitely your shearwater. I may suggest that it is a nicolae (or, say, a bird from the Seychelles group). Seychelles birds are variable with regard to undertail covert (never as white as bailloni, of course, but they can be quite white). Moreover, one bird from Aldabra (in Tring I think) and one bird I measured on Seychelles were both with tails > 93 mm (although they represent <5% of birds measured). I believe you can rule out bailloni (tail, undertail), and temptator. For the others, I would not be so certain. History and my own experience with this group of petrels show that caution must be taken!!! One last thing, I am completing a very detailed analysis of lherminieri/assimilis taxonomy (based on genetics, with colleagues), that will show that the taxonomy of this group must be completely reshaped.

Best wishes
Vincent Bretagnolle

Who can help us with the identification of this bird. I have only taken the wings of the bird with us back to Holland. They are in the collection of the Zoological Museum, University of Amsterdam. It is a pity, I have left the rest of the bird on the beach.

The reactions will be submitted for a short note in Dutch birding

Please send your reactions to Ruud Kampf, r@kampf.nl

Homepage Ruud and Kitty Kampf


Trip report and pictures on our Oman page