Black-capped Petrel: Large petrel with white underparts, dark brown to black back and upper wings, black cap, and white collar (this field mark is missing in some birds). Tail is long, dark, and wedge-shaped; underwings show broad dark margins. Hooked bill is dark, legs are pink. High arcing flight.
Range and Habitat
Black-capped Petrel: Occurs at sea from northern South America to the southeastern U.S. Currently, the only known breeding colonies are located in the highlands of Hispaniola, Haiti and Loma del Toro in the Dominican Republic. The total population is small, and a mere handful drift northward along the Gulf Stream in summer and fall, after the breeding season.
Black-capped Petrels are also known as Diablotín, or "little devil” because of its night-time habits and odd-sounding mating calls, which reminded villagers of the sounds of evil spirits.
Due to their prevalence off the coast of the U.S. some researchers believe that there are other breeding colonies not yet accounted for. Expeditions to find breeding birds in Cuba have been made, but no colonies have been found thus far. Likewise, reports of Black-capped Petrels in Dominica have not been followed by the discovery of other nesting sites.
They once bred on at least four islands in the Caribbean. Now they can only be heard reliably on the Island of Hispaniola. Hunting, habitat alteration, introduced predators and natural disasters have led to the extirpation of this species from much of its previous breeding range.
A group of petrels are collectively known as a "gallon" and a "tank" of petrels.