Hydrobates pelagicus (European storm-petrel) 

Europese stormswael [Afrikaans]; (gewoon) stormvogeltje [Dutch]; Océanite tempête [French]; Sturmschwalbe [German]; Painho-de-cauda-quadrada [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Ciconiiformes > Family: Hydrobatidae

Hydrobates pelagicus (European storm-petrel)   

European storm-petrel, offshore from Cape Town, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]


Distribution and habitat

Breeds in Iceland, western Europe and possibly North Africa, heading south in the non-breeding season to the coastline of Africa from Mauritania to southern Africa. Here it is common along the coastline of Namibia and South Africa up to East London, less common further out to sea, while more scarce further north-east through KwaZulu-Natal to Mozambique.

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of the following animals:

Movements and migrations

It leaves its European breeding grounds from August-October, migrating along the coast of western Europe and Africa and eventually arriving in southern Africa in September. Its numbers peak in the region from November-March, leaving for its breeding grounds in May.


It mainly eats crustaceans and small fish, doing most of its foraging by immersing head or its entire body in the sea in order to grab prey. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • fish
  • invertebrates
    • crustaceans
    • squid
    • jellyfish
    • remains of insects (presumably blown into the sea)
  • other


Not globally threatened, although some colonies have reduced in numbers or have been abandoned completely.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 


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