Often during the process of divergence, genetic markers will only gradually obtain the signal of isolation. Studies of recently diverged taxa utilizing both mitochondrial and nuclear data sets may therefore yield gene trees with differing levels of phylogenetic signal as a result of differences in coalescence times. However, several factors can lead to this same pattern, and it is important to distinguish between them to gain a better understanding of the process of divergence and the factors driving it. Here, we employ three nuclear intron loci in addition to the mitochondrial Cytochrome b gene to investigate the magnitude and timing of divergence between two endangered and nearly indistinguishable petrel taxa: the Galapagos (GAPE) and Hawaiian (HAPE) petrels (Pterodroma phaeopygia and P. sandwichensis). Phylogenetic analyses indicated reciprocal monophyly between these two taxa for the mitochondrial data set, but trees derived from the nuclear introns were unresolved. Coalescent analyses revealed effectively no migration between GAPE and HAPE over the last 100 000 generations and that they diverged relatively recently, approximately 550 000 years ago, coincident with a time of intense ecological change in both the Galapagos and Hawaiian archipelagoes. This indicates that recent divergence and incomplete lineage sorting are causing the difference in the strength of the phylogenetic signal of each data set, instead of insufficient variability or ongoing male-biased dispersal. Further coalescent analyses show that gene flow is low even between islands within each archipelago suggesting that divergence may be continuing at a local scale. Accurately identifying recently isolated taxa is becoming increasingly important as many clearly recognizable species are already threatened by extinction.