Stormpetrels Hydrobatidae

Class: Aves

Order: Procellariiformes Family: Hydrobatidae Number of species: 21 species

CHAPTER

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Storm-petrels are small seabirds that use their long legs to fend off the water as they snap up food from the surface. Like other procellariiforms (members of the order Procel-lariiformes), the storm-petrel has tubular nostrils that span almost half the length of the bill. The wings are rounded at the tip, and wing spans vary from about 12.6 inches to 22.4 inches (32 to 57 centimeters), depending on the species. They weigh from 0.7 ounces (20 grams) to 2.9 ounces (83 grams).

Their feathers are dark black or brown, and the storm-petrel's hind end is white. Tails are squared off at the end or forked, and all storm-petrels give off a musty smell characteristic of tubenoses. Females are larger than males.

GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

Though distributed throughout the world, storm-petrels are particularly plentiful in the Southern Ocean. While most species breed around Australasia (Australia and nearby Asian islands), five assemble around islands from Mexico to California. The birds can be found in all ocean waters.

HABITAT

Because they are small and dart around so quickly, it is difficult to identify the storm-petrel, so its habitats are not well known. All storm-petrels live solely in the ocean and retreat to land only during breeding season.

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