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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Leach's Storm Petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa

Leach’s storm petrel is silent at sea, but it makes a high-pitched purring sound, interrupted by sharp whistles, in and near its nest. Unlike Wilson’s storm petrel, this species breeds in the Northern Hemisphere. It migrates southward in late summer, roaming throughout the north Pacific and much of the Atlantic. Small and brownish black, with a sharply forked tail, it flies rapidly, changing direction frequently as it scans the water’s surface for food. It feeds on planktonic animals and small fish, pattering on the surface with its feet and occasionally settling on the water to rest. Leach’s storm petrels breed in colonies, laying a single egg and returning to their burrows at night with food for their hatched young. In the far north, some birds delay nesting until August to avoid the 24-hour daylight of the Arctic summer, during which they would be more vulnerable to predators.

Leach's Storm Petrelzoom image
  • Order Procellariiformes
  • Length 7–8 in (19–22 cm)
  • Weight 1–1 oz (40–50 g)
  • Habitat Coasts, islands (breeding); open ocean
  • Distribution North Pacific, north Atlantic, coastal North America and Aleutian Islands
Leach's Storm Petrel habitat mapzoom image