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Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus


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Wilson's Storm-Petrel
credit: Patrick Coin/CCSA

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Family: Hydrobatidae, Storm-Petrels view all from this family

Description ALL BIRDS Have dark gray-brown plumage, palest on underside of flight feathers and with pale bar on upper wing coverts. Rump is white. Legs are dark and feet have yellow webs.

Dimensions Length: 7" (18 cm)

Habitat Breeds on islands in southern oceans (in our winter) and moves to North Atlantic outside its breeding season. Common offshore visitor (present mainly May-Sep) and seldom seen within sight of land.

Observation Tips Easy to see on pelagic and whale-watching trips during summer months. Sometimes gathers in large concentrations where feeding is good, e.g. around fishing boats.

Range Mid-Atlantic, California, New England, Eastern Canada, Southeast, Florida

Voice Silent at sea.

Discussion Tiny seabird that looks all-dark at a distance, but with a striking and contrasting white rump and undertail coverts. At close range, note the square-tipped tail (may appear a bit notched when not spread), the relatively long legs (when outstretched, the toes project beyond the tail), and the pale panel on the upper wing coverts. It glides on outstretched, flat wings and also flutters low over the water, pattering the surface with its dangling feet. Sexes are similar.