White-faced storm-petrel

White-faced storm-petrel
Pelagodroma marina

Photo by Philip Griffin (New Zealand Birds Online)

Common name:
white-faced storm-petrel (en); calcamar (pt); océanite frégate (fr); paíño pechialbo (es); fregattensturmschwalbe (de)

Order Procellariiformes
Family Hydrobaridae

The white-faced storm-petrel breeds in remote oceanic islands in the Atlantic, such as Tristão da Cunha, Cape Verde, the Canary islands and the Selvagem islands, as well as on the coasts of Australia and New Zealand. Outside the breeding season they can be found over vast areas of the ocean, including the North Atlantic as far as the British isles and the south-eastern coast of Canada, the South Atlantic as far south as the coasts of Argentina and South Africa, in the Indian Ocean from the coasts of Somalia, the Persian Gulf and India to Australia, and in the Pacific Ocean from Australia and New Zealand to the coasts of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Panama.

These birds are 19-21 cm long and have a wingspan of 41-44 cm. They weigh around 45 g.

They breed on small oceanic islands or offshore islands along the coasts of Australia and New Zealand. They forage on the open sea, mainly along the edges of the continental shelves and over upwellings in deeper waters.

White-faced storm-petrels feed on pelagic crustaceans, small fishes and other small planktonic animals picked from the surface of the water, but are also known to eat offal from fishing vessels.

These birds can breed all year round, varying between different nesting colonies. They are monogamous and nest in a burrow on sandy soil, sometimes under dense vegetation. The female lays a single white egg with a few pinkish-brown spots. The egg is incubated by both parents for about 50 days. The chick is fed by both parents and fledges 52-62 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
The white-faced storm-petrel has a relatively large breeding range and a global population estimated at 4 million individuals. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to predation by invasive species, particularly rats, and unsustainable levels of exploitation.

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