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Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus 

Wilson's Storm-Petrel in the Gulf of Mexico

A small, mostly black seabird with white feathers above and below the tail forming a complete white band. Buffy to white tips on the secondary coverts form a faint streak on the top of the inside of the wings. The tail is not forked. About the size of a large swallow. The long legs project past the tail when in flight. Flies close to the ocean's surface. Frequently patters feet on surface with wings outspread.

Occurrence: Summer resident that is common in the Atlantic in the Austral Winter and rare into December. Could be seen in pelagic water anywhere in the Caribbean but usually along a migration path east of the Lesser Antilles, north of the Greater Antilles, and both east and west of the Bahamas. Occassionally nearshore on migration but feeds in deep water. Uncommon in northern Gulf of Mexico. Often seen in mixed-species flocks with other storm-petrels.

Natural History: A very common seabird with breeding populations of many millions of pairs on islands around the high latitudes of the Southern Ocean. This petrel eats small bits of fish oil or macroscopic pelagic animals that it gathers from the surface. Like most tubenoses, it uses its keen sense of smell to locate food. It is attracted to plumes of fish oil above schools of tuna or even fish oils and offal in the wake of fishing or birdwatching vessels.

West Indian Breeding Seabird Atlas by Will Mackin and David Lee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on work at www.wicbirds.net. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.wicbirds.net.

Suggested Citation: Lee, D. S., W. A. Mackin. 2011. Wilson's Storm-Petrel. West Indian Breeding Seabird Atlas <http://www.wicbirds.net/wisp.html>. Last Updated: _____. Date accessed: ______.

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October 11, 2011
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