Freira-da-Madeira or Zino’s petrel


With grey back and wings
and a grey upper tail
the undersides of the wings
are blackish and the belly
white with grey flanks

this is Europe’s
most endangered seabird
It breeds on a few ledges
high in the central mountains
of Madeira

Its nests are shallow burrows
which they visit only after dark

These petrels mate for life
and pairs return to the same burrow
year after year

A single oval white egg
is laid in early April
and never replaced if lost

All through the night
its haunting mournful cry
can be heard

the cry of nuns drowned at sea
or the cry of lovers
lost in love

John Lyons

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