Black Storm-Petrel

Oceanodroma melania

Order:
Procellariiformes
Family:
Hydrobatidae
Sections

Diet and Foraging

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Black Storm-Petrels foraging.

Picks live organisms from sea surface by pattering, dipping, and contact-dipping. Most active foraging during crepuscular periods, perhaps at night as well.

© Jan Cubilla , Veraguas , Panama , 18 July 2015
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Black Storm-Petrels foraging.

In general, any small fish, squid, or crustacean that occurs near or at the surface is likely prey. Scavenges large floating items by swimming alongside and pecking at them.

© Brittany O'Connor , California , United States , 20 August 2016
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Black Storm-Petrels foraging.
© Merryl Edelstein , California , United States , 20 August 2016

Feeding

Main Foods Taken

Not well known; information anecdotal. In general, any small fish, squid, or crustacean that occurs near or at the surface is likely taken (e.g., less than about 5–6 cm long). The following prey have been observed: larval spiny lobster (Panulirus sp.; 71); larval fish and squid (66); lantern fish (72); fish, euphausiids, squid, caridean shrimp, gammarid amphipods (1); ephausiids (Thysanoessa spinifera in higher frequency; also Nyctiphanes simplex, Nematoscelis difficilis, Euphausia eximia, and E. recurva), larval fish (Vinciguerria lucetia), squid (Doryteuthis opalescens), amphipods, copepods, and decapods (Y. Bedolla-Guzmán, J. F. Masello, A. Aguirre-Muñoz, B. E. Lavaniegos, and P. Quillfeldt, unpublished data). Also scavenges larger items of food, presumably by tearing off pieces (e.g., 52, 73). At Islas San Benito, Black Storm-Petrel diet when feeding chicks contained consisted mainly of krill in colder years (2012 and 2013), while these were replaced by larval fish in a warmer year (2014) (Y. Bedolla-Guzmán, J. F. Masello, A. Aguirre-Muñoz, B. E. Lavaniegos, and P. Quillfeldt, unpublished data). Using stable-isotope analyses of whole blood and feathers, Black Storm-Petrels foraged in coastal waters (reflected in lower δ13C values), whereas Leach’s Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) and Least Storm-Petrel (O. microsoma) foraged further offshore both during breeding and nonbreeding periods (Y. Bedolla-Guzmán, J. F. Masello, A. Aguire-Muñoz, B. E. Lavaniegos, C. Voigt, J. Gómez-Gutiérrez, L. Sánchez-Velasco, and P. Quillfeldt, unpublished data).

Microhabitat for Foraging

Sea surface in areas of high productivity, such as shelf-break front off California (66, 57, 7), and thermal fronts bordering upwellings (65) and tide rips (68) in the Gulf of California. Sometimes forages in the company of small, slow cetaceans (e.g., bottlenose dolphin [Tursiops truncatus]), which likely drive suitable prey to the surface (61).

Food Capture and Consumption

Picks live organisms from sea surface by pattering, dipping, and contact-dipping (DGA). Most active foraging occurs during crepuscular periods, perhaps also at night. Dives to at least 1 m to obtain food, using its wings for propulsion, but not to pursue prey any distance (71, 8; B. Tershy, personal communication). Scavenges large floating items by swimming alongside and pecking at them. Attracted by olfaction to slicks of fish oil (52, 66, 61).

Diet

Major Food Items

See Diet and Foraging: Feeding: Main Foods Taken.

Quantitative Analysis

On the basis of conventional diet sampling (Y. Bedolla-Guzmán, J. F. Masello, A. Aguirre-Muñoz, B. E. Lavaniegos, and P. Quillfeldt, unpublished data) at Islas San Benito in 2012–2014 (n = 44): 22–82% krill, 11–77% fish, 1–4% squid, and 2% other crustaceans; results of stable-isotope analyses indicated a mean δ13C value of -18.7‰ ± 0.4 SD, and a mean δ15N value of 17.8‰ ± 0.4 SD, during the breeding season.

Food Selection and Storage

As far as known, not very selective of epipelagic micronekton (see Feeding and Diet). Similar to all petrels, food is rendered into a stomach oil (74), which is then fed to chicks or digested at a later time (description by A. B. Howell in Bent [73]). Oil is the most frequently encountered substance in stomach contents inspected (52, 8, 1).

Nutrition and Energetics

No information.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

No information.

Drinking, Pellet-Casting, and Defecation

Like all seabirds, drinks sea water, the salt from which is excreted through supraorbital glands. Not known to cast pellets. Does not defecate in nest chambers.

Recommended Citation

Everett, W. T., Y. R. Bedolla-Guzmán, and D. G. Ainley (2019). Black Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma melania), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.bkspet.02