Family Northern Storm-petrels (Hydrobatidae)


Leach’s Storm-petrel (Hydrobates leucorhous)


French: Océanite cul-blanc German: Wellenläufer Spanish: Paíño boreal
Other common names: Socorro Storm-petrel (socorroensis), Chapman’s Storm-petrel (chapmani)

Procellaria leucorhoa


, 1818,

maritime parts of Picardy, France


Perhaps separable in genus Cymochorea, along with H. monorhis, H. tristrami and H. markhami#R#R. H. monorhis sometimes considered a race of present species; these two may be closest to H. homochroa. Taxonomy complex and confused, with major upheaval in recent years concerning status of birds down Pacific coast of North America; at present classification of breeders in this zone remains tentative. Situation on Guadalupe I (off NW Mexico) particularly complicated, with three distinct breeding populations, two of them now recognized specifically (H. socorroensis and H. cheimomnestes). Traditionally recognized subspecies beali (described from SE Alaska) now generally regarded as invalid. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. l. leucorhous (Vieillot, 1818) – mostly N Pacific and N Atlantic Oceans, breeding in N Pacific from NE Japan N and E through Kuril Is and Aleutian Is to S Alaska, and SE to S California (USA), and in N Atlantic from NE USA and E Canada E to Iceland, Faeroe Is, N Scotland and NW Norway; recently found breeding (since 1995) on Dyer I, off S South Africa#R.
  • H. l. chapmani (Berlepsch, 1906) – EC Pacific Ocean, breeding on San Benito and Coronados Is, off NW Mexico.
  • Descriptive notes

    19–22 cm; 38–54 g; wingspan 43·5–49·5 cm. Medium-sized blackish storm-petrel with forked or deeply notched tail, usually with white patch... read more


    Like most storm-petrels, only regularly vocalizes around colonies, both on ground and in flight.... read more


    Marine and pelagic, e.g. off South Africa favours waters > 2000 m deep, especially those with... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly small fish (including sandeels and nocturnal myctophids), squid, planktonic crustaceans, soft-bodied invertebrates (including ... read more


    Starts May in N Atlantic, although first return to colonies in Apr and same is true for birds breeding in Japan (N Pacific); probably only... read more


    N populations migrate S into tropics and have been recorded making transoceanic movements, e.g.... read more

    Status and conservation

    VULNERABLE. Widespread and abundant, with total population (based on 2016 compilation of available data) of 6·7–8·3 million breeding pairs, 40–48%... read more