White-faced Storm-petrel
© Paul F. Donald

Seabird Species


The smallest seabirds seem to ‘dance’ delicately on the water.

Storm-petrels are the smallest seabirds in the world, with species ranging from 13cm to 26cm in length. The name of this group comes from the habit of these birds to hide in the lee of ships during storms, leading to them being thought to predict storms.

These birds feed by hovering above the water’s surface and picking small crustaceans or fish from the surface layers, occasionally making small dives. 

The 27 species of this bird have worldwide distributions and are strictly pelagic – they only return to land to breed. They usually only go to their nests at night to avoid avian predators, but artificial lighting can make them vulnerable (Oro et al. 2006).  

In The Seabird Tracking Database:
Colonies: 23
Tracks: 861
Points: 69384
Data range: 2012 – 2022
Data holders: 29
Species Tracked

Spotlight species: White-faced Storm-petrel

White-faced Storm-petrel
© Paul F. Donald

The White-faced Storm-petrel (Pelagodroma marina) is arguably one of the most beautiful of the storm-petrels, with a characteristic grey and white pattern and a black eye mask. They are also easy to identify due their foraging behaviour, “jumping” on the sea surface – which gave them the nickname of “Jesus bird”. This storm-petrel occurs in tropical and sub-tropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Although they are not a threatened species, the global population is suspected to be in decline mostly due to predation by invasive species. 

Please view this page on a desktop computer to see our interactive species colony map.

Tracked colonies of Storm-petrels

Use the map below to explore seabird colonies around the world.

Thanks to our data contributors: Ben Porter; Benjamin Metzger; BirdLife Malta; Carina Gjerdrum; Hannah F. R. Hereward; Ingrid L. Pollet; Jacob Gonzalez-Solis; Jose Pedro Granadeiro; Luke R. Halpin; Maria Saldanha Alho; Paulo Catry; Paulo Lago; Petra Quillfeldt; Richard Phillips/BAS; Robert Alfredo Ronconi; Steffen Oppel; Veronica Rodrigues Costa Neves; Wiebke Schäfer