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  Storm-Petrels
 
 
 

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Procellariiformes - Hydrobatidae
 
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Procellariiformes
Albatrosses, Shearwaters, Petrels and Diving Petrels, Storm-Petrels
 
Skip to:   
All albatrosses, Feeding procellariids
 
Species:    
Waved Albatross, Elliott's Storm-Petrel
 
Images:    
Waved Albatross, Cape Petrel, Elliot's Storm-Petrel,
Feeding Group, Wandering Albatross, Royal Albatross, Shy Albatross, Laysan Albatross,
Westland Petrel, Cape Pigeon, Antarctic Petrel, Dark-rumped Petrel, Galapagos Shearwater
 
  Family Hydrobatidae - Storm-petrels
Wiki     ToL   EoL
  21 (20) species, 7 genera. Worldwide - pelagic.
   Storm-petrels are the smallest oceanic birds and land only at night when nesting. The Southern Hemisphere breeders have relatively short wings and long legs (Subfamily Oceanitinae - but Wilson's Storm-petrel is also found in the Northern Hemisphere). Northern Hemisphere birds have longer wings, long forked tails, and shorter legs (Subfamily Hydrobatinae - Hydrobates, Oceanodroma). Cytochrome bDNA studies suggests the family is paraphyletic and should be treated as two families?
   They have large heads with slim bodies and tails that range from short to long. Some have long legs and feet. They have a hooked bill. Their tube-nostrils are located dorsally on the ridge of the culmen. They have "salt glands" located above the eyes (supraorbital glands) that drain into the nasal cavities. They have webbed feet (palmate - the 3 forward-pointing toes are webbed). Their legs are placed far back on the body so they walk only a few steps.
   Storm-petrels are dark above and paler below. Sexes are alike. Most have a complete annual molt. Their plumage has a strong odor (derived from their stomach oil). Both chicks and adults may eject stomach oil through their nostrils in defense when disturbed.
   All feed on minute prey captured by picking it from the surface, usually while flying. When flying, they are usually close to the surface - some patter their feet on the surface while flying (this is the source of the name petrel which is a diminutive of "Peter" who "walked on water."  This method of feeding is common in the Oceanitinae. When swimming, storm-petrels float buoyantly on the surface. They may engage in dynamic soaring (Hydrobatinae) and slope soaring (Oceanitinae).
   Some storm-petrels gather in flocks but they are also seen singly. They are active around their breeding areas at night and often make loud, distinctive calls near their nests. They are silent at sea.
   They diet includes small planktonic crustaceans and fish or fish eggs. They accept scraps of fish, offal, or refuse from boats. They they are also attracted to floating oils and fats (carcasses) - located by their acute olfactory sense.  They often feed in flight. More rarely they may sit on the surface of dive below the surface for a short distance.
   Storm-petrels are monogamous, pairing for life? They nest in colonies, using protected sites (crevices, burrows) and (all but one species) restrict their activity to night to reduce predation. They regularly return to their natal colonies (philopatry). Nests may be reused. They lay and incubate one egg for about 7 weeks - parents alternate duties every 6 days or so. Young are brooded for another 7-10 days, then they are left alone during the day and fed at night. Adults share parental duties. Young are fed a mixture of regurgitated food and rich stomach oil. They gain weight rapidly and come to exceed adult weight by up to 80%. They fledge after 50-70 days. Chicks have two nestling downs before attaining their juvenile plumage. Many storm-petrel eggs and young survive periods of inattention due to varying food supplies and the absence of foraging parents. Young may return to the colony after 2-4 years but breed only after 3-5 years.
   Most species are partial migrants but their movements are not well known (Wilson's Storm-petrel regularly crosses the equator into the Northern Hemisphere after breeding).. 
   Many species of storm petrels are difficult to identify but they do approach boats when attracted by fishing offal or chum. They also seem to profit from the mere presence of a vessel disturbing wave patterns. They have well-developed olfactory systems used to find food (as well as their individual nest burrows).
 
  Elliot's (White-vented) Storm-Petrel, Oceanites gracilis 
 
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  Elliot's Storm-Petrels followed our ship around the Galapagos, often feeding wile the ship was at anchor. They probably breed in the Galapagos but their nesting site is unknown
  Stolrm-petrel Storm-petrel  
 
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