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European Storm Petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus)

This small petrel is known as Europe's smallest sea bird. It is a fascinating bird that we are still learning more about. Recently, satellite tags revealed quite a lot about this bird's movement that we never knew before.

Physical Description and Behavior

These small seabirds are only about 7 inches long with a wingspan of up to 15 inches. It is very light as well, weighing only about an ounce on average. Its plumage is all black with the exception of its rump which is a bright snow white.

Fun fact: The storm petrel is fragile and is unable to live on islands inhabited with cats and rats due to increased predation.

They will build their nests under rocks or else burrow under the soil. When they dig they use their bills to loosen the soil and then kick out the loose sand with their legs. They are also known to use the burrows made by other birds and animals as a nest as well.

The main food that they eat comes from small animals floating on the surface of the water. This can be small fish or even tiny jellyfish. If a boat is transporting "chum," swarms of these birds can be attracted to this smell.

Habitat and Location

Storm petrels only breed on islands in the Western Palaearctic on the coasts on Europe. The largest colonies of this bird are on the Faroe Islands, followed by the United Kingdom, Iceland, and Ireland. They only visit these otherwise uninhabited islands at night to breed.

Check out this video showing the Storm Petrel down below!

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