- ORDER: Procellariiformes
- FAMILY: Hydrobatidae
The Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, a beautiful silvery-bluish seabird, spends most of its life over the cold waters of the open North Pacific Ocean. Foraging in small groups far out to sea, these small "tubenose" seabirds use their refined sense of smell to track down food by its scent from many miles away. They prey mostly on zooplankton and small fish, which they capture by hovering above the ocean and dipping down to grasp with the bill, often pattering the surface with their feet to steady themselves.More ID Info
Find This Bird
To see Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, take a pelagic bird watching trip into deep waters off the northern Pacific coast (northern California through Alaska). Such trips usually last from early morning until late afternoon and are a great way to see many species of seabirds including albatrosses, shearwaters, petrels, storm-petrels, and jaegers. (Bring warm clothing and seasickness medication.)
- Paíño Rabihorcado (Spanish)
- Océanite à queue fourchue (French)
- Cool Facts
- In the Bering Sea, some native people give the name o ku ik (“bird that eats oil”) to Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel, which often gathers around carcasses of marine mammals to consume the floating oil.
- 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 female lays a single egg that is approximately 20% of her 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 a smelly food source such as a floating carcass.
- The oldest recorded Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel was at least 25 years, 1 month old, when it was recaptured and released in Alaska in 2013. It had been banded in 1988, also in Alaska.