• Name: Storm petrel | Hydrobates pelagicus
  • Size: 36-39cm wingspan
  • Life span: 11 years  
  • Diet: Storm petrel's typical prey consists of surface organisms such as small fish, squid, crustaceans and jellyfish. The storm petrel will also eat offal and oily food, often located by smell, and will follow ships.
  • Reproduction: The Storm petrel nests in crevices and burrows, sometimes shared with other Seabirds or Rabbits, and lays a single white egg, usually on bare soil. 
  • When to see: Spring and Summer (May to August)
  • Where to see: Storm petrels breed along coasts with shingle beaches and on rocky islands, i.e. Green and Stony Island, Samson | Annet and the Western Rocks in Scilly. 
  • Conservation status: ICUN Redlist | Least Concern (Global).  Birds of Conservation Concern 4 | Amber (UK)
  • Population Trend: Unknown
  • Threats:  Human activity/disturbance through increases in recreational activities, habitat loss from coastal development, erosion, pollution and predation at nesting sites.
  • Fun Fact: Petrels seem to have the ability to walk on water! This illusion comes from the hovering type flight maneuver they use to search for food out in the ocean.

Description: A tiny, delicate-looking seabird, little bigger than a sparrow.

The Storm petrel has dark, brownish-black wings, body and head, with a broad white patch of white on the rump and a short, dark, square-ended tail. There is a distinctive white band on the underside of each wing, which helps separate this species from other similar storm petrels.

When seen closely, the small bill has a distinctive ‘tube’ on top, giving it away as a member of the group of seabirds known as tubenoses, which includes Albatrosses, Shearwaters and the Fulmar.

Scilly is internationally important for breeding Storm petrels, supporting England's only breeding population.

Want to know more?  Check out our latest Seabird Monitoring & Research Technical Report for the most up to date information about how this charismatic species is fairing in Scilly.

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With thanks to Joe Pender for the Storm petrel image