(Science: ornithology) Any one of numerous species of longwinged sea birds belonging to the family Procellaridae. The small petrels, or mother Carey’s chickens, belong to Oceanites, Oceanodroma, Procellaria, and several allied genera. Diving petrel, any bird of the genus Pelecanoides. They chiefly inhabit the southern hemisphere. Fulmar petrel, giant petrel. See Fulmar. Pintado petrel, the Cape pigeon. See Cape. Pintado petrel, any one of several small petrels, especially Procellaria pelagica, or Mother Carey’s chicken, common on both sides of the atlantic.
Origin: F. Petrel; a dim. Of the name Peter, L. Petrus, Gr. A stone (John i.42); probably so called in allusion to St.Peter’s walking on the sea. See Petrify.