Storm Petrel (European)
This bird is difficult to see and breeds in colonies on remote islands - where it comes to land only at night for fear of predation by bigger birds. The calling at night from the burrows is prodigious and the birds know their mates from the calls.'
The birds have a musty and all pervasive smell - even strong on skins prepared 200 years ago! It is basically black in plumage (and bill and feet) but has a white rump. Structurally it is very like a House Martin and may even be mistaken for it - but it is no more a relative of the House Martin than an albatross would be.
The storm petrels are tube-noses and very closely related to the huge albatrosses. These birds lay a single egg - huge in relation to their body size - in a burrow. The few colonies are from the Adriatic, through the Western Mediterranean and up the Eastern coast of the Atlantic to Norway and Iceland. The birds winter down the African coast to concentrate off South Africa. Food is taken from the surface and the birds patter along it. Probably more than two thirds of the world population breeds in Britain and Ireland - so their population is about 160,000 pairs.
The tiny seabird of Europe very seldom seen.
Length 160 mm Closed wing 120 mm Weight 25 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead