- Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (Grant's)
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Band-rumped Storm-Petrel Hydrobates castro Scientific name definitions

John W. Slotterback
Version: 1.1 — Published August 18, 2021

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Introduction

Editor's Note: Due to a recent taxonomic revision, this species account is still being edited and may contain content from an earlier version of the account.

The Band-rumped Storm-Petrel ranges throughout the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It breeds away from continental areas on remote islands of Japan, the Hawaiian Archipelago, Galápagos, and small Eastern Atlantic islands off the coasts of Spain and Africa. Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, originating from Eastern Atlantic breeding populations and once thought only to be blown to the North American coast by storms, are now known to be regular visitors to within 50 kilometers of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. In the United States, this species breeds only in the Hawaiian Archipelago, where it is the rarest and smallest breeding seabird; exact locations for most colonies in the Hawaiian Archipelago are still unknown, though evidence suggests that some exist high on Hawaiian volcanoes (from about 2,400 to 3,350 m), making this one of the highest nesting seabird species in the world. The Band-rumped Storm-Petrel is not considered threatened worldwide, though it is a candidate for listing (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS] 1) because of its very small population size in the Hawaiian Archipelago.

Band-rumped Storm-Petrels are members of the family Hydrobatidae (order Procellariiformes), characterized generally by small size and dark plumage (lighter underparts), nocturnal colony attendance, burrow-nesting behavior, and seizing of prey from the ocean surface. It is a member of the Northern Hemisphere subfamily Hydrobatinae, which is characterized by long, pointed wings; notched tails; and legs that do not project beyond the tail in flight. In contrast, the subfamily Oceanitinae is of Southern Hemisphere origin, and its species are characterized by short, rounded wings and legs usually extending beyond square tails.

Storm-petrels, in general, are difficult to observe, and the Band-rumped Storm-Petrels are no exceptions. To avoid predation, populations breed on remote islands and often in inaccessible places, spending the nonbreeding season far out to sea. When breeding, they fly about over the ocean by day to feed on surface plankton and return to land only after dark, when they feed their young in cryptic nest burrows. Storm-petrels sighted at sea are usually hard to identify with certainty owing to often difficult viewing conditions, reluctance to follow ships, and the close similarities among species. Flight characteristics are often the key to distinguishing species.

Owing to these difficulties, few researchers have studied Band-rumped Storm-Petrels in any detail. There are only 2 major breeding studies of Band-rumped Storm-Petrel: Allan (2; Ascension I.) and Harris (3; Galápagos Is.) Interesting, more recent work on Band-rumped Storm-Petrel discovered that populations breeding at different seasons on one island in the Azores are distinct morphologically and genetically, a possible case of sympatric speciation (4).

Distribution of the Band-rumped Storm-Petrel - Range Map
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  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Band-rumped Storm-Petrel

Recommended Citation

Slotterback, J. W. (2021). Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (Hydrobates castro), version 1.1. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.barpet.01.1