Black-capped Petrels (Pterodroma hasitata)

The Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) is a small seabird in the gadfly petrel genus, Pterodroma. It is also known as the Diablotín.

The extinct Jamaica Petrel (P. caribbaea) was a related dark form, often considered a subspecies of this bird.

Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata)


This long-winged petrel has a grey-brown back and wings, with a white nape (back of the neck) and rump. Underparts are mainly white apart from a black cap (that in some individuals extends to cover the eye) and some dark underwing makings.

It picks food items such as squid from the ocean surface.

The Black-capped Petrel is nocturnal at the breeding sites possibly to avoid predation by gulls, hawks or crows.

Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata)

Like most petrels, its walking ability is limited to a short shuffle to the burrow.

Distribution / Range

Although this seabird once breed on cliffs in the mountains of the Greater Antilles, only three confirmed breeding sites remain, all in the high mountains of Hispaniola (at Lomo de Toro in the Dominican Republic, and in Parc La Visite and Parc Macaya on Haitian side of the island).

The local name Diablotín means “little devil”, called so because of its night-time habits and the odd-sounding mating calls, which may have suggested to locals the presence of evil spirits in the dark.

A mountain peak where it formerly bred in Haiti (and another in Dominica, Lesser Antilles) is still named Morne Diablotin.

The species, once widespread in the West Indies, is now far less common. It is an uncommon but regular visitor to the southeastern USA, and an extremely rare wanderer to western Europe.

Causes for its demise include habitat loss, introduced predators, and direct human harvesting.

Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata)References

  • BirdLife International (2004). Pterodroma hasitata. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes a range map, a brief justification of why this species is endangered, and the criteria used
  • Dod, Annabelle Stockton (1978). Aves de la República Dominicana. Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
  • Dod, A. S. (1992). Endangered and Endemic Birds of the Dominican Republic. Cypress House ISBN 1-879384-12-4
  • Latta, Steven; et al. (2006). Aves de la República Dominicana y Haití. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-12876-6
Photo of author

Team Beauty of Birds's team of experts includes veterinarians, biologists, environmentalists and active bird watchers. All put together, we have over half a century of experience in the birding space.

You can meet our team here.