Townsend's Storm-Petrel

Oceanodroma socorroensis


Curtis Marantz
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eBird Checklist S24263535
Ventura pelagic trip - 12 July 2015 - 10:15 am
Santa Barbara, California, United States
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Latitude and Longitude 33.7147, -119.7156 Map

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Observation details

We spent an extended period of time following this bird as it flew back-and-forth ahead of the boat without getting all that far away at 33° 38' 09" N, 119° 41' 28" W. A few times it seemed to drop to the water, but it spent most of its time flying, and quite possibly trying to evade the boat. I did not think this bird flew with quite the bounding flight of a nominate Leach’s Storm-Petrel, but it also did not have the fluttery flight of a Wilson’s. The bill was quite short and the head was large and with a steep forehead, both typical of storm-petrels in general. I did think this bird’s wings were a bit shorter and not as tapered distally as is typical of Leach’s Storm-Petrels, I thought it seemed small, and the tail was short and more weakly notched at the tip than is typical of Leach’s Storm-Petrel. My photos show that the feet did not extend beyond the tip of the tail when the bird was in flight, but I could not really see this in the field. This bird was quite black overall, with the head, upperparts, underparts, and most of the wings and tail distinctly black rather than gray or brown. Clearly evident was a pale carpal-bar that appeared diffuse and not as conspicuous as on some storm-petrels. My impression was also that the bar was light brownish rather than gray or white. Most conspicuous on this bird was the broad band of bright white that appeared to extend straight across the rump without being indented centrally or crossed by a dark median-band. The lower edge of the white also appeared to extend straight across what I suspect was the junction of the rump and uppertail coverts, but it was difficult to be sure. It was nevertheless obvious that the rump was snow-white in its entirety, that it was broad and not constricted inward along either the upper or lower edges, and that it wrapped around to at least some degree onto the sides of the undertail coverts. The bill was black and the eyes were dark, but I never clearly saw the legs or feet on a bird that we observed exclusively as it flew low over the water.

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