BIRD OF THE WEEK — ASHY STORM-PETREL — PLANET EARTH BIRD WORLD group

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BIRD OF THE WEEK

ASHY STORM-PETREL

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Hydrobates (Oceanodroma) homochroa
POPULATION: 3,500-6,700 adults
IUCN STATUS: Endangered
TREND: Decreasing
HABITAT: Nests in rocky crevices and cavities on islands, islets, mainland cliffs, and in sea caves. Spends the rest of its time at sea.

The Ashy Storm-Petrel is a small, sooty-colored seabird, slightly larger than an Eastern Bluebird. An adult can fit nicely into the palm of one’s hand and weighs just a bit more than one ounce. This specialized seabird can only be found in the area of the Pacific Ocean’s California Current, where the cold waters are rich in nutrients that sustain sea creatures from tiny krill to enormous whales. 

The species is a member of an order of seabirds (Procellariiformes) nicknamed “tubenoses” after the pair of horny tubes on their upper mandibles. These tubes have an important function: They channel and excrete excess salt, which is filtered out by specialized glands. These adaptations make it possible for the birds to ingest seawater — essential for a species at sea most of its life.

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