Black Storm-petrel (Oceanodroma melania)

Black Storm-petrel

[order] PROCELLARIIFORMES | [family] Hydrobatidae | [latin] Oceanodroma melania | [authority] Bonaparte, 1854 | [UK] Black Storm-petrel | [FR] Oceanite noir | [DE] Schwarz-Wellenlaufer | [ES] Paino Ventrinegro | [NL] Zwart Stormvogeltje


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Oceanodroma melania PO e


Storm-petrels are rather small and often dark colored tubenoses with a world wide distribution. All have fine black bills with very pronounced tubes. Storm Petrels are separated in two groups: the long legged, Southern Hemisphere birds subfamily Oceanitinae and the shorter legged species of more northern seas the subfamily Hydrobatinae. The first groups shows more morphological differences than the second. The genera are characterised on colour patterns, the condition of the nasal tubes, tail shape, structure of claws and proportions of the leg bones. The genus Oceanodroma consists of medium-sized petrels; plumage dark or greyish, often with pale rumps; tail more or less forked; tarsus short , middle toe with claw and scutellate; claws narrow.

Physical charateristics

The most common all-black petrel found off California. Larger than Ashy, with longer wings and more languid flight.

Listen to the sound of Black Storm-petrel

[audio: Storm-petrel.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 46 cm wingspan max.: 51 cm
size min.: 23 cm size max.: 25 cm
incubation min.: 48 days incubation max.: 52 days
fledging min.: 68 days fledging max.: 72 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 1  


Pacific Ocean : East. This species breeds on islands off the coast of southern Calfornia (USA), the Baja Peninsula and the Gulf of California (Mexico). During winter it disperses south and can be found off the coasts of Colombia and Ecuador


Open sea. Favors warm ocean waters; off central California, fewer appear during years of colder water temperatures. Generally far offshore, but in southern California and Mexico, may occur regul
arly within a few miles of the mainland coast. Nests on rocky islands.


Breeding behavior poorly known. Nests on islands, often in small colonies. Both members
of pair may rest in nesting burrow for nearly 3 months before egg-laying. Active around colonies mostly or entirely at night. Adults give staccato calls while flying around colonies, changing to a musical trill when inside the nest.
Nest: Site is in small opening among boulders, in crevice in cliff, or in burrow (especially abandoned burrow of Cassin’s Auklet). Usually no nest built, sometimes a few bits of plant material added.
Clutch 1. White, sometimes with small reddish brown spots around larger end. Incubation is probably by both sexes, incubation period not known.
Young: Probably fed by both parents, as in other storm-petrels, but not much is known of their development or age at first flight.

Feeding habits

Includes crustaceans, small fish.
Diet poorly known. May eat many small fish at times, and has been reported feeding on larval form of the spiny lobster. May also eat small squid. Scavenges floating fat from dead animals at sea.
Behavior: Forages mostly by hovering or fluttering low over water and taking items from surface.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Black Storm-petrel status Least Concern


Breeds on Coronados and other islands off Baja California; also Santa Barbara Island, California. Ranges north along California coast to Humboldt. bMigration:
After nesting, moves north regularly as far as central California. Common on Monterey Bay in late summer and fall during years of high water temperature. Most disappear after October, wintering south to waters off Panama and northwestern South America.

Distribution map

Black Storm-petrel distribution range map

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