Oceanites oceanicus (Wilson's storm-petrel) 

Gewone stormswael, Geelpootstormswael [Afrikaans]; Wilson-stormvogeltje [Dutch]; Océanite de Wilson [French]; Buntfuß-sturmschwalbe [German]; Painho-casquilho [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

Oceanites oceanicus (Wilson's storm-petrel)  Oceanites oceanicus (Wilson's storm-petrel) 

Wilson's storm-petrel. [photo Jeff Poklen ©]

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

Distribution and habitat

Breeds in ice-free areas of Antarctica, the sub-Antarctic islands and islands around the Cape Horn of South America. It disperses in the non-breeding season across all seven of the oceans of the world, including much of southern African waters, travelling closer to the coastline than most other storm-petrels. It is most commonly seen along the border between the continental shelf and the deep ocean shelf.

Predators and parasites

At its breeding colonies it has been recorded as prey of giant-petrels (Procellariidae) and skuas (Catharacta).

Movements and migrations

Most leave the breeding colonies in the period from March-May, which is also when its numbers peak in southern African waters. Here it is present year-round, however many birds return to their colonies around October-December.


Its diet in southern Africa is not as well known as in its breeding colonies, where it mainly eats planktonic crustaceans supplemented with fish, squid and carrion. It mainly forages by taking prey from the water surface (submerging its head and neck), often "walking" on the water beforehand while in flight (see photo on the top right). The following food items have been recorded in its diet in southern Africa:

  • zooplankton
  • small squid
  • Lampanyctodes hectoris (Lanterfish)
  • fishery waste


Not threatened, in fact it has a global population of several million pairs. Its breeding colonies have however been negatively effected by the introduction of Domestic cats (Felis catus) and rats (Rattus), which eat eggs and chicks.


  • 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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