Least Storm-petrel (Oceanodroma microsoma)




A very small all dark storm-petrel of the Pacific coast of Baja California and the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez). Upperparts and head entirely blackish brown. Faint greyish-brown carpal bar. Has a short, wedge-shaped tail (appears rounded at sea) that accentuates the bat-like appearance. Feet do not extend beyond tail in direct flight. Comparatively short rounded wings. Flight fairly direct with deep and high wing beats similar to Black Storm-petrel but more rapid. Often found with other storm-petrels (e.g. Black and Ashy Storm-petrels). Wings held in a V when feeding. Does not foot patter.

Where and When

Breeds off the Pacific side of Baja peninsula (Islas San Benito, c. 15,000 pairs) and more abundantly in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Concentrated on Cardinosa and Little Cardinosa Islands but may occur on other smaller islets. Click here to view a range map for the Caribbean and central America.

Outside breeding season, disperses south to coasts of Colombia, Ecuador and possibly Peru. A few move north and are found in the large storm-petrel roosts in Monterey Bay in late summer. Numbers fluctuate from year to year (max 1000, October 1983). Recorded as far north as Humbolt County, California. Sometimes driven into inland areas (e.g. Salton Sea or Colorado River) by hurricanes.

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Copyright © 2002 All rights reserved. Angus Wilson
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