British Wildlife Wiki

Wilson's Storm Petrel (Oceanites oceanicus), also known as Wilson's Petrel, is a small seabird of the southern storm-petrel family . It is one of the most abundant bird species in the world. The name commemorates the Scottish-American ornithologist Alexander Wilson. It is the mascot of Oglethorpe University.

Wilson's Storm Petrel is a small bird, 16–18.5 cm (6.3–7.3 in) in length with a 38–42 cm (15–16.5 in) wingspan. It is slightly larger than the European Storm Petrel. It is essentially dark brown in all plumages, except for white rump. It differs from the that species by its pale bar on the upper wing, plain underwings and longer legs.

This species breeds on the Antarctic coastlines and nearby islands such as the South Shetland Islands. It nests in colonies close to the sea in rock crevices or small burrows in soft earth and lays a single white egg. This storm-petrel is strictly nocturnal at the breeding sites to avoid predation by gulls and skuas, and will even avoid coming to land on clear moonlit nights. Like most petrels, its walking ability is limited to a short shuffle to the burrow.

It spends the rest of the year at sea, and moves into the northern oceans in the southern hemisphere's winter. It is much more common in the north Atlantic than the Pacific. It is strictly pelagic outside the breeding season, and this, together with its remote breeding sites, makes Wilson's Petrel a difficult bird to see from land. Only in severe storms might this species be pushed into headlands.

Wilson's Storm Petrel is common off eastern North America in the northern summer and the seasonal abundance of this bird in suitable European waters has been revealed through pelagic boat trips, most notably in the area of the Isles of Scilly, Great Britain.

It has a more direct gliding flight than Storm Petrel, but shares the habit of pattering on the water surface as it picks planktonic food items from the ocean surface, though with more upraised wings. Like European Storm Petrel, it is highly gregarious, and will also follow ships. A soft peeping noise is often heard while the birds are feeding.

Widespread throughout its large range, Wilson's Storm Petrel is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.