Leach's Storm-petrel by Glen Tepke and used with
his permission. All photographs on this page remain the property of the
Northern Hemisphere Breeder
Leach's Storm-petrel like
all Ocenodroma is a Northern hemisphere breeder and therefore is busy during
our summer. Migrates south during our winter.
In the north Atlantic
breeds on offshore islands from Maine, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. A few
pairs breed on Penikese Island south of Cape Cod. Regularly seen
in Cape Cod Bay during the summer. Take the Plymouth or
Barnstable whale watch. Also in Greenland and at St. Kilda Scotland.
In the north Pacific breeds on
offshore islands from Japan to the Aleutians and Alaska and south to the Baja
Atlantic birds winter off the coast of
Brazil. Occurs in all three oceans: Atlantic, Pacific, and
Leach's lays a single egg in shallow burrows 1
-3 feet in length. Both parents take turns incubating and both feed the chick,
coming and going from the burrow only at night. Burrows can be collapsed by
humans walking about over them and nests are disturbed by dogs and ferral
Young are fed by both parents by regurgitation.
Immature non-breeding birds can be seen offshore on the edge of the
Continental Shelf and at Cashes Ledge in summer. Late fall, especially October,
any Storm-petrel on Stellwagen Bank should be closely examined as it is
probably Leach's rather than Wilson's Storm-petrel. Also seen from seawatches
on Cape Cod during late fall and early winter. This bird is
perhaps easier to see on west coast pelagics.
Hard to observe on the
breeding grounds as it enters and leaves burrows at night and human presence
disturbs nest by collapsing burrows.
plumage to Wilson's Storm-petrel. Leach's is larger and has a slightly forked
tail. See the photograph by Steve Mirick to the right. A small
vertical dark band dividing the white rump is not visible in any of
the photos. Legs do not trail behind the tail when flying. Bill, legs and feet are
black. White rump patch does not extend down around the rump.
See pictures below.
These characteristics are hard to
observe at sea. Appears longer winged, has a slower wing beat, and you do not
see the legs trailing behind tail. Notice that the trailing edge of the wing
has a definite angle. Wilson's shows a straight trailing edge.
'Two pictures of Leach's Storm-petrel taken by Glen Tepke.
Both pictures show that the white rump patch does not extend down
the sides of the rump. Notice the broad upper wing crescentic
bars that reach the leading edge of the wing. Thanks for sharing Glen.
hundreds of Wilson's Storm-petrels around a boat, Leach's can be picked out
because of the slightly larger size, different wing shape, and different flight
characteristics. However, one pass near the boat is all you get and it is hard
to point out to the novice birder
Does not follow in the ship's wake.
Occasionally follows trawlers (2) which means it could be attracted by
chum. Not as likely to patter feet on the surface of the water
as Wilson's Storm-petrel. Feeds by sitting on the water and
moving forward using legs.