Dresser/Birds of Europe:  Procellariiformes


Procellariidae  (Petrels, Fulmars, Shearwaters)

Hydrobatidae  (Storm Petrels)


7 images available on two pages.

Three plates were not by Keulemans.

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The Order Tubinares was divided into four families, the largest of which being the fulmars and shearwaters (Puffinidae), followed in numbers by the storm-petrels (Procellariidae), the albatrosses (Diomedeidae), and the diving petrels (Pelecanoididae).  Shortly thereafter this arrangement changed, and this is reflected in the list of Howard and Moore (A Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World,second ed., Academic Press), with the order being designated the Procellariiformes, the fulmars and shearwaters being called Procellariidae, and the storm-petrels bearing the name Hydrobatidae, a designation once used to describe the dippers of the family Cinclidae, as well as the diving-petrels of the family Pelecanoididae.  Another recent revision by Sibley and Monroe (Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World, Yale University Press) united all families into one, Procellariidae, sequentially last in the order Ciconiiformes.

This group of oceanic birds is characterized by having a tube-like projection above the beak which is used as a filter while feeding.  This projection is positioned laterally among the albatrosses.  The terms for members of the family of the present Procellariidae (fulmar, petrel) have been used invariably for different species and genera.  They have two joint tubes on their beaks, whereas in the Hydrobatidae there is only one.  The term "storm-petrel" is merely an appellation without any bearing to members of the latter family other than that in Britain, in previous centuries, the Procellaria [Hydrobatespelagicawas often found beached during or after storms.  The diving-petrels of the family Pelecanoididae represent a family that is a southern, austral parallel to the auks of the family Alcidae and are characterized by tubes which open upward and are suited for diving underwater.  


The ornithologists who studied the order of Tubinares, and the illustrators who figured them, were not particularly familiar with them as living birds, and the great amount of the literature on the subject, running well into the past century, is derived from their examination of study skins.  

This is reflected in the plates themselves.  Members of this order establish breeding colonies on isolated, remote islands, but otherwise spend the greater part of their lives at sea, in flight or coasting along oceanic waves.  Their legs are weak and are positioned back further than on most birds, which gives them advantages while in flight and in water.  With the exception of the albatrosses (Diomedeidae) and petrels of the genus Macronectes, they can only assume an upright position on their legs momentarily, and while on land can only move about by crawling or waddling (or by running short distances as is best characterized in the background figure of pl. 58 in Godman's Monograph (Oestrelata [Pterodromahypoleuca) and pl. 33 in Godman (Puffinus persicus)), though some of the other petrels have been frequently observed in an upright position (Pagodroma, Priofinus [Procellariacinereus).  A tree or upright rock is often used as a necessary means of assuming take-off when leaving land.  Some of the plates in Dresser (pls. 613, 615 (fig. 2), 616 (fig. 2), 720, 721) may be construed as inaccurate in the sense that it is suggested that these birds typically assume an upright position, and one which is assumed for periods of time.

Further, most petrels fly with their wings outstreched, and in many works this belies another criticism, as many are depicted, in the background detail, with their wings held above the body.  Plate 720 (Puffinus obscurus) in Dresser is such an example, but plate 618 (Oestrelata [Pterodroma] haesitata), draughted by Wolf, correctly depicts the figures with wings outstretched.  By the time of Mathews (Birds of Australia, pls. 88, 91), several years after Godman's Monograph, these discrepancies appear to have been remedied.  Many of the smaller-winged storm petrels often flutter with wings held over their bodies.

Ultimately, the prepared plates, as proofs, required approval from the respective authors of the books in which they appeared before printing.

Plate 614  Neale

Plate 617  Neale

Plate 618  Wolf


Supplement;  Frigate-Petrel. 

Pelagodroma marina.

 not colored


not colored

Supplement, Plate 721.  Soft-plumaged Petrel.

Aestrelata (Pterodroma) mollis.

The Soft-plumage Petrel breeds on islands in the Southern Ocean as well as the North Atlantic (Cape Verde, Madeira).  The specimen figured was a petrel collected from the island of Madeira.  Godman, in his Monograph, later attributed this plate as representative of a new species, Oestrelata feae, which had been described subsequent to Dresser's Supplement.  Mathews (Novitates Zoologicae, vol. XXXIX) later assigned this plate as representative of a subspecies of mollis which he had recently proposed, Pterodroma mollis deserta.  The measurements taken of the specimen figured in Dresser's Supplement most closely correspond to deserta. 



Supplement;  Dusky Shearwater.  (Puffinus)


 not colored


Supplement;  Ridgways Petrel.

Oceanodroma cryptoleucura.



(613)  Storm Petrel.

Thalassidroma pelagica.

 Leach's Petrel.

Thalassidroma leucorrhea.