Volume 49, No. 2

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On-land foraging by Leach's Storm Petrels Oceanodroma leucorhoa coincides with anomalous weather conditions


1Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology Program, Psychology Department, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador A1C 5X7, Canada
2Birding Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador A1A 2G4, Canada
3Biology Department, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador A1C 5X7, Canada
4LGL Limited, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador A1B 4A5, Canada
5Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador A1N 4T3, Canada


D'ENTREMONT, K.J.N., BLACKMORE, R.J., COLLINS, S.M., BROWN, D., JONES, I.L., MACTAVISH, B., WILHELM, S.I. & MONTEVECCHI, W.A. 2021. On-land foraging by Leach's Storm Petrels Oceanodroma leucorhoa coincides with anomalous weather conditions. Marine Ornithology 49: 247 - 252

Received 08 January 2021, accepted 08 June 2021

Date Published: 2021/10/15
Date Online: 2021/09/30
Key words: Leach's Storm Petrel, Oceanodroma leucorhoa, capelin, Mallotus villosus, on-land foraging, wind, marine heatwave


We describe the first known documentation of on-land foraging by Leach's Storm Petrels Oceanodroma leucorhoa, a behaviour that has been documented only once before among members of the family Hydrobatidae. During a rain/windstorm from 15 to 17 July 2020 in eastern Newfoundland, individuals fed on coastally spawning and beach-cast capelin Mallotus villosus. This behaviour occurred in conjunction with a marine heatwave in the species' foraging range. Examination showed that wrecked birds were emaciated with negligible stomach contents. This finding, combined with the abnormal weather and foraging behaviour, suggests that these birds were in a weakened state preceding stranding in coastal waters. With the only other recorded instance of on-land foraging by hydrobatids occurring in highly emaciated birds concurrent with a marine heatwave, we suggest that this atypical behaviour is associated with birds experiencing extreme food stress linked to oceanic climate change.


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