Leach's Storm-petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa (Vieillot, 1818)

Order: Procellariiformes Family: Hydrobatidae Status: Vagrant to Madeira

Leach's Storm-petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa

Recommended birdwatching sea trips to watch this seabird

Zino’s Petrel Pelagic Expedition

Leach's Storm-petrel Field ID Keys

Shape & Size

The largest storm petrel of the Western Palearctic with fairly pointed wings and moderately forked and long tail, often held slightly upwards. Bill looks long and thin.

Colour Pattern

A dark and white seabird with the grayish to brownish black covering most of its body and the white on the ‘V’ shaped rump, with a dark/greyish central line not conspicuous. Oceanodroma leucorhoa has pale bold bars on upperwings. Little extension of white from rump to lateral undertail coverts


Overall jizz and wingbeats resemble a tern flying. In strong winds it makes some erratic turns and accelerations on stiff wings. In Madeira it does not spend much time feeding on chum as other storm petrels do.

Leach's Storm-petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa


A pelagic bird sometimes seen offshore from headlands though in Madeira is normally seen at sea far from the coast. Widespread breeder in North Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Distinction from similar species

In size it is similar to Madeiran storm petrel though in Oceanodroma leucorhoa the tail is deeper forked, the white rump is looks more like a ‘V’ than a ‘U’ and the paler bars on the upperwings are more conspicuous.

Oceanodroma leucorhoa Biometrics

Wingspan: 450 - 480 mm (Flood & Ashley, 2011)
Total length: 180 - 220 mm (Flood & Ashley, 2011)
Weight: 38 - 50 g (Flood & Ashley, 2011)

Other Bird Facts

Seasonality in Madeira: It is observed during migration times: from end of April to early June and from end of August to end of September
Breeding: Most colonies start their breeding season in May and will depart by September though non successful breeders may start their autumn migration in August.
Diet: Its diet consists in very small floating pieces of offal, fish oil, jellyfish and marine invertebrates (Hume, 2002)


Madeira local status by Correia-Fagundes et al, 2021: Seasonal
Madeira local status by Romano et al, 2010: Seasonal vagrant bird
Madeira local status by Zino et al, 1995: Exceptional vagrant bird
Conservation status by the IUCN Red List Categories, 2013: Least Concern ver 3.1

Name of this species in other languages

Portuguese: Painho-de-cauda-furcada
German: Wellenläufer
Dutch: Vaal Stormvogeltje
Swedish: Klykstjärtad stormsvala
Danish: Stor Stormsvale
Finish: Myrskykeiju
Norwegian: Stormsvale
Spanish: Paíño Boreal
French: Océanite cul-blanc
Italian: Uccello delle tempeste codaforcuta
Polish: Nawałnik duży
Slovak: Víchrovníček severský
Czech: Buřňáček dlouhokřídlý
English synonyms: Fork-tailed Storm-petrel, Leach’s Petrel

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