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Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A small, gray, ocean-going bird of the North Pacific, the Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel is the only pure gray member of its family. Most of the other storm-petrels are predominantly black.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
7.9 in
20 cm
1.8–2.8 oz
50–80 g
Other Names
  • Océanite à queue fourchue (French)
  • Pa rabihorcado (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Oil is stored in the stomach and used to feed chicks. Adults regurgitate the oil onto predators, and sometimes onto each other during squabbles over nest sites.
  • The single egg laid is approximately 20 percent of the female's body weight, one of the largest eggs relative to body size of all birds.
  • Adults do not feed the chick in bad weather. If not fed for several days, the chick reduces its body temperature and goes into a state of torpor in which growth nearly ceases. When the adults return and brood the chick, its body temperature rises and it starts to grow again.
  • Storm-petrels use their sense of smell to find food at sea and are often the first birds to arrive at an odor source.
  • The oldest recorded Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel was at least 25 years, 1 month old, when it was accidentally caught in a trap, freed, and released in Alaska in 2013. It had been banded in the same state in 1988.



  • Breeds on offshore islands of differing habitats.
  • Forages and winters on nearshore waters and cold waters in the open ocean of the continental shelf.



Swimming crustaceans and fish on surface of water.


Nesting Facts
Egg Description
Dull white, often with blunt end encircled by ring of dark purplish-red spots.
Condition at Hatching
Covered with long gray down, eyes closed.
Nest Description

In burrows and crevices; little or no nest material added.

Nest Placement




Hovers over water and dips down, may land briefly on water, and even dive underwater to pursue prey. Follows boats.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

The Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel is widespread and abundant, but there is little information on population trends of the species. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a continental population of 5-6 million breeding birds. The species rates a 9 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds Watch List. Nest sites are vulnerable to introduced predators. Adults are vulnerable to oil pollution at sea.


Range Map Help

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel Range Map
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