Murphy's Petrel Title
Pterodroma ultima
Murphy's Petrel FDC

Murphy's Petrel 40cWith a conservation status of "near threatened”, Murphy’s Petrel is indeed a rare species with very little known about it. The first specimen was collected from Pitcairn’s Oeno Island in 1922, but it was not until 1949 that Robert Murphy, a seabird biologist, described the species. Murphy applied the scientific name ultima  which was rash in retrospect, as in 1963 its status as ultimate was lost with the description of Barau’s Petrel.Murphy's Petrel 50c

Growing to around 40cm, Murphy’s Petrel is pearl-grey in colour with its plumage becoming browner as it becomes worn. Whiter around the throat, it has a black bill, legs and eye. Its relatively large head and delicate bill are noticeable and it has a shortish tail.

Murphy's Petrel $1The species feeds on squid, fish, crustacea and insects. Birds begin the breeding process in late March with egg laying being observed on Henderson in late May to mid July.

The species is a surface nester and nests close to neighbours in scrapes under shade canopies of Argusia argentea  trees. Hatching takes place late July – August with a nestling period of around 100 days.

Murphy's Petrel $2Fledgling success is not high on Henderson with the predatory Pacific Rat causing much damage. Survival rates are higher on Oeno and Ducie.

The distribution of Murphy’s Petrel centres on the known breeding islands in the central Pacific Ocean. These include various islands in French Polynesia including the Tuamotus, Australs and Gambiers but the species’ stronghold is the Pitcairn group where the following populations are estimated (1995):
Henderson 2500 pairs; Oeno 12,500 pairs; Ducie 250,000 pairs.

Murphy's Petrel $2.50Cats and rats on Pitcairn have kept this species from establishing itself. The world population is estimated at between 800,000 – 1,000,000 individuals.
Murphy's Petrel Mini Sheet

Little is known about the birds in the non-breeding season although they have been noted off the western coast of the United States and as far away as the Cook Islands, Hawaii and Peru.

Murphy's Petrel
Please Note: All prices are in New Zealand Dollars

40c, 50c, $1.00, $2.00, $2.50
Single Set

Gutter Pair

Block of 4

Miniature Sheet


Technical Details

Release Date : 17 November 2004
Designer: Karen Odiam, Brisbane, Australia
Printer : Southern Colour Print, Dunedin, New Zealand
Process : Offset Lithography
Perforation Gauge : 14.59 x 14.55
Stamp Size : 37.13 mm x 26.00 mm, 3 horizontal, 2 vertical.
Mini Sheet Size:
175.0mm x 80.0mm horizontal.
Denomination (NZD) : 40c, 50c, $1.00,$2.00 and $2.50
Paper : 103gsm, yellow-green phosphor stamp paper
Period of Sale :
17 November, 2004  for a period of 2 years.

Acknowledgements: The Pitcairn Islands Philatelic Bureau would like to express its appreciation to Dr. Michael Brooke for his kind assistance and use of reference material from his new book "Albatrosses and Petrels across the World", Oxford University Press, 2004.