Birds

Storm Petrels

The Leach's Storm-petrel is a small and secretive resident of Eastern Egg Rock.

The Leach's Storm Petrel (Oceanodrama leucorhoa) is a small and secretive resident of Eastern Egg Rock. During the summer they are nocturnal and are rarely seen by visitors. However, deep in their underground burrows, they are feverishly working to raise the next generation of Leach's Storm Petrels. At night the Storm Petrels call to each other, giving away their presence on the island.

Leach's Storm Petrels lay a single egg that must be incubated for 5-7 weeks, a very long time compared to most bird species. Terns, for example, only incubate their eggs for about 3 weeks, and for songbirds incubation usually lasts two weeks. Although the Leach's Storm Petrel is no bigger than a Robin, it takes about 3 times as long for the egg to hatch.

After hatching, it's another 9-10 weeks until the chicks leave the nest. The dedicated parents are busy bringing food to the chick all this time. The food is collected far out at sea and eaten by the parents there, so the chick gets an oily fish-regurgitate. While it's not so appealing to humans, it helps the chicks grow and mature. Pictured at left is a fluffy young Leach's Storm Petrel chick.

Leach's Storm Petrels are very small seabirds, only measuring about 8 inches (20 cm)in length. They fly like butterflies over the ocean, skimming small bits of food from the surface. The main parts of their diets are fish, squid, and shrimp. When they are not breeding, they spend all their time at sea, fluttering over the ocean in search of food.

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