Black-bellied Storm-petrel (Fregetta tropica)


Two subspecies recognized:

F. t. tropica (South Shetland, South Orkney, South Sandwich Island, South Georgia, Elephant Island, possibly Bouvet Island, The Crozets, Kerguelen, Aukland Islands and Antipodes Islands).

F. t. melanoleuca (Tristan da Cunha Group, possibly Gough Island, Prince Edward Islands.)

Composite images of Black-bellied Storm-petrels. Superficially resembles Wilson's Storm-petrel from above but has a striking white belly patch and white underwing coverts. Separated from similar White-bellied Storm-petrel and pale morph of White-throated Storm-petrel by the dark band running across the white belly patch and the dark vent area. These birds were photographed off South Georgia by Ron Saldino in January 1999. Photograph copyright of Ron Saldino©, 1999.


Large blackish storm-petrel with white rump (uppertail coverts) and white belly. Separated from similar White-bellied Storm-petrel by black stripe along the center of the white belly patch, darker upperparts, dark vent and more obvious pale carpal bar. Often accompanies ships, preferring to run alongside or even follow the bow wave. Legs trail behined it, seems to bounce breast first into waves, sometimes patters with feet.

Where and When

Breeds on a number of oceanic islands (see above). Outside of breeding season, disperses northwards into subtropical and even tropical waters.

Two images of a Black-bellied Storm-petrel. Again showing diagnostic belly stripe and dark vent. At sea off South Georgia January 1999. Photograph copyright of Ron Saldino©, 1999.

Photographs on the web

Take off Sydney, Australia in December by Tony Palliser and on his pelagic web site.



Many thanks to Ron Saldino for generously allowing me to use his photographs.

Copyright © 2002 All rights reserved. Angus Wilson
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