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European storm petrel


Common name European storm petrel
Scientific name Hydrobates pelagicus
Type Seabirds
Status Migrator

Small seabird (about 18 cm or 7 in), similar in size to a sparrow. It is the smallest marine bird of the Iberian coasts. Even dark plumage, almost black. The rump and a strip under the wings, both of white colour, stand out. Flight at water level, irregular like that of bats, following the waves. Small and black head and bill. Short and black legs, often in contact with the water surface.


Marine environment

Where it lives

A pelagic species that spends most of its time in the open sea, returning to the coast only to reproduce. Breeding colonies in islets and inaccessible coastal areas. Resident in the Mediterranean and the Strait of Gibraltar, with breeding colonies on the coasts of Almeria.

How it lives

Bird present in the coast of Malaga during its migration. The European Storm Petrel is also a rare wintering species, but it can be barely seen close to the coast. It breeds in colonies located in cliffs or islets of difficult access. Nests in cavities and crevices. One laying in June of a single egg. This seabird feeds on cephalopods, jellyfish and crustaceans that it captures on the surface. It also consumes floating matter such as the remains of fish discarded by fishing vessels.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

Rare species in the province and difficult to observe. It is common in the Alboran Sea but to watch it one needs to embark and sail out to sea. Coastal sightings tend to occur only after heavy gales.

Curious facts

This petrel is a seabird associated with storms, hence its English full name. For this reason it has a bad reputation among sailors and has given rise to various legends and bad omens, for example the proximity of bad weather, the belief that these birds were the souls of sailors killed in the sea or that killing them brought bad luck. During the Spanish Civil War a group of revolutionary anarchists adopted the name "the stormy petrels" due to a Russian song that alluded to these birds to refer to the storm as a pre-battle anthem.

Wintering Summer Resident Migration