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The Providence Petrel is a burrowing species now found only at a few breeding sites on Lord Howe Island. The current population is thought to be 64,000 but the restricted sites make the petrel vulnerable to catastrophes in their habitat.

UNSW Providence Petrel soar above Lord Howe Island

Translocation of some individuals to Norfolk Island (within their traditional range) is a potential resolution. But Providence Petrels return to their natal site to breed, so if future translocation is to be successful, chicks need to be relocated before they emerge from their burrow and learn where they live. This study aimed to find the stage of growth when chicks can be successfully translocated.

Timing of emergence from the burrow was recorded and the optimal time to move Providence Petrel chicks was determined, based on first emergence, chick development and parental feeding probability.