storm petrel

storm petrel
any of several small, tube-nosed seabirds of the family Hydrobatidae, usually having black or sooty-brown plumage with a white rump.
Also, storm-petrel. Cf. stormy petrel.

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Any of about 20 species (family Hydrobatidae) of petrels that vary from 5 to 10 in.

(13–25 cm) long. All are dark gray or brown, sometimes lighter below, often with a white rump. The relatively short wings are rounded at the tips. The toes are webbed, except for the small hind toe; the tail is square, forked, or wedge-shaped. Most species breeding in southern oceans "walk" over the water with wings spread, picking up minute marine organisms. Most northern species swoop over the water like tiny terns, occasionally alighting on the surface.

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      any member of about 20 species of seabirds constituting the family Hydrobatidae, or sometimes considered as Oceanitidae (order Procellariiformes). Ranging in length from about 13 to 25 centimetres (5 1/2 to 10 inches), all are dark gray or brown, sometimes lighter below, and often with a white rump. The wings are shorter than those of most other procellariiforms and are rounded at the tips; the bill is of medium length; the nostril tubes (common to all members of the order) are united on the upper surface of the bill; the toes are webbed, except for the hind toe, which is small and elevated; the tail is medium to long and square, forked, or wedge shaped.

      Storm petrels fall into two behavioral and structural groups. Most of the species breeding in the southern oceans are shorter winged, square tailed, long legged, and short toed. With wings spread, they patter over the water, “walking,” and pick up minute marine organisms. An example is Wilson's petrel (Oceanites oceanicus), which breeds on islets along the Antarctic continent and near the Antarctic Circle and winters in the North Atlantic from about June to September.

      Most of the northern species have longer wings, forked or wedge-shaped tails, shorter legs, and longer toes; when foraging, they swoop over the water like tiny terns, occasionally alighting on the surface. Leach's petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa), for example, breeds on islands in the North Atlantic and south to about 28° N in the Pacific. Several other Oceanodroma species occur in the North Pacific. The British storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus) breeds on islands and cliffs along the coasts of Europe.

      Storm petrels are colonial breeders, nesting in burrows they dug in soft soil or in crevices in rocks. They breed on islands along the coasts of North and South America, in the eastern and southern Atlantic, and throughout the Pacific. A single whitish egg is incubated by both parents, which come and go by night and so are rarely seen by man and other potential predators. Like many exclusively nocturnal birds, petrels are highly vocal at the colony. Like most other procellariiform young, the chicks are deserted by their parents a week or more before they are fully fledged. While the parents molt at sea, the young complete their growth and leave the burrow to feed themselves at sea.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Storm petrel — Storm Storm, n. [AS. storm; akin to D. storm, G. sturm, Icel. stormr; and perhaps to Gr. ? assault, onset, Skr. s? to flow, to hasten, or perhaps to L. sternere to strew, prostrate (cf. {Stratum}). [root]166.] 1. A violent disturbance of the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • storm petrel — ► NOUN ▪ a small petrel with blackish plumage, formerly believed to be a sign of bad weather to come …   English terms dictionary

  • storm petrel — n. any of a family (Hydrobatidae) of petrels; esp., a black and white species (Hydrobates pelagicus) of the N Atlantic and the Mediterranean …   English World dictionary

  • Storm-petrel — Taxobox name = Storm petrels image width = 250px image caption = Wilson s Storm Petrel regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Aves ordo = Procellariiformes familia = Hydrobatidae familia authority = Mathews, 1912 subdivision ranks = Genera …   Wikipedia

  • storm petrel — noun any of various small petrels having dark plumage with paler underparts • Hypernyms: ↑petrel • Hyponyms: ↑stormy petrel, ↑northern storm petrel, ↑Hydrobates pelagicus, ↑Mother Carey s chicken, ↑Mother Carey s hen, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • storm petrel — noun Any of several small seabirds, of the family Hydrobatidae, having dark plumage and a white rump. Syn: Mother Careys chicken, storm petrel, stormy petrel …   Wiktionary

  • storm petrel — storm′ pet rel or storm′ pet rel n. orn any of several small, tube nosed seabirds of the family Hydrobatidae, usu. having black or sooty brown plumage with a white rump • Etymology: 1795–1805 …   From formal English to slang

  • storm petrel — small petrel with blackish feathers (in the past was believed to announce the approaching bad weather) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • storm petrel — noun a small petrel with blackish plumage, formerly believed to be a harbinger of bad weather. [Hydrobates pelagicus (NE Atlantic and Mediterranean) and other species.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • storm-petrel — /ˈstɔm pɛtrəl / (say stawm petruhl) noun any of various small dark seabirds of the subfamily Hydrobatinae. Also, stormy petrel …  

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