Madeiran Storm-petrel (Oceanodroma castro)

Madeiran Storm-petrel

[order] PROCELLARIIFORMES | [family] Hydrobatidae | [latin] Oceanodroma castro | [authority] Harcourt, 1851 | [UK] Madeiran Storm-petrel | [FR] Oceanite de Castro | [DE] Madeira-Wellenlaufer | [ES] Paino de Madeira | [NL] Madeira-stormvogeltje


Monotypic species


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

A small, dark, pelagic bird with rounded wings and a white rump patch. May be confused with the White-Faced Storm-Petrel but has longer wings, browner plumage, and a longer tail with slight forking (not easy to see). Undulating flight with incomplete wingbeats interrupted with short glides on a zigzag trajectory. The Madeiran Storm-Petrel is not easily seen at sea, it does not follow ships and on land it is strictly nocturnal.

Listen to the sound of Madeiran Storm-petrel

[audio: Storm-petrel.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Niklas Holmstrom

wingspan min.: 44 cm wingspan max.: 46 cm
size min.: 19 cm size max.: 21 cm
incubation min.: 38 days incubation max.: 51 days
fledging min.: 60 days fledging max.: 51 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 1  


Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean : East Japan, Hawaiian Is., Galapagos, East North Atlantic from the Azores and Madeira to the Canary Islands, Ascension, St. Helena. Oceanodroma castro breeds in the eastern Atlantic from the Berlengas Islands and the Azores (Portugal), down to Ascension Island and Saint Helena (St Helena to UK), and in the Pacific off eastern Japan, on Kauai, Hawaii (USA) and on the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)


Its habitats are small islands, sea rocks and coastal cliffs.


It breeds on all the islands of Madeira archipelago, except for the island of Porto Santo – although it does breed on the sea rocks surrounding that island. Madeira Storm-petrel has two breeding seasons, one in spring and the other in autumn. One egg is laid per sitting and incubation takes between 38 and 42 days. Both parents take turns in sitting on the egg, staying on the nest for periods of 2 to 6 days at a time. The chick remains in the nest for 68/73 days after hatching.

Feeding habits

Mostly planktonic crustaceans, small fish and squid; also feeds on some human refuse.
Feeds mainly on wing, by pattering and dipping; also surface-seizes.
Most feeding by day.

Video Madeiran Storm-petrel


copyright: Usori


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.
This pelagic bird inhabits the temperate and tropical regions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The population of the European Union, breeding on Madeira Islands (Madeira, Desertas and Salvagens), the Azores, Tenerife and the Farilhoes off Portugal, amounts to 3700 breeding pairs. Its trends are badly known, but the species is adversely affected by the introduction of rats on its breeding islands and the recent increase in Yellow-legged Gulls (Larus michahelli).
Madeiran Storm-petrel status Least Concern


Apparently some birds largely sedentary, since colonies visited irregularly throughout year; others disperse widely, with records from Atlantic coast of N America, Britain, Cuba and Brazil.

Distribution map

Madeiran Storm-petrel distribution range map

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