Sunday Inspiration – Austral Storm Petrels and Albatrosses

Grey-backed Storm Petrel (Garrodia nereis) ©WikiC

“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.” (Genesis 1:20 KJV)

Our new Order, the Procellariiformes has four Families. Today, the Oceanitidae – Austral Storm Petrels and the Diomedeidae – Albatrosses are presented. There are 30 species in these two families. The next two families have a combined 117 members so we will be in this Procellariiformes Order for several weeks.

Oceanitidae – Austral Storm Petrels

Austral storm petrels, or southern storm petrels, are seabirds in the family Oceanitidae, part of the order Procellariiformes. These smallest of seabirds feed on planktonic crustaceans and small fish picked from the surface, typically while hovering. Their flight is fluttering and sometimes bat-like.

Austral storm petrels have a cosmopolitan distribution, being found in all oceans, although only Wilson’s storm-petrels are found in the northern hemisphere. They are almost all strictly pelagic, coming to land only when breeding.

White-faced Storm Petrel (Pelagodroma marina) ©WikiC

Austral Storm Petrels are the smallest of all the seabirds, ranging in size from 15–26 cm in length. There are two body shapes in the family; the austral storm petrels have short wings, square tails, elongated skulls, and long legs. The legs of all storm petrels are proportionally longer than those of other Procellariiformes, but they are very weak and unable to support the bird’s weight for more than a few steps.

Like many seabirds, storm petrels will associate with other species of seabird and marine mammal species in order to help obtain food. It is theorized that they benefit from the actions of diving predators such as seals and penguins which push prey up towards the surface while hunting, allowing the surface feeding storm petrels to reach them.

Diomedeidae – Albatrosses

Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) by Ian

Albatrosses, of the biological family Diomedeidae, are large seabirds allied to the procellariids, storm petrels and diving petrels in the order Procellariiformes (the tubenoses). They range widely in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific. They are absent from the North Atlantic, although fossil remains show they once occurred there and occasional vagrants are found. Albatrosses are among the largest of flying birds, and the great albatrosses (genus Diomedea) have the largest wingspans of any extant birds, reaching up to 3.7 metres (12 feet). The albatrosses are usually regarded as falling into four genera, but there is disagreement over the number of species.

Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) Oldest Albartos named Wisdom ©EarthSky

Albatrosses are highly efficient in the air, using dynamic soaring and slope soaring to cover great distances with little exertion. They feed on squid, fish and krill by either scavenging, surface seizing or diving. Albatrosses are colonial, nesting for the most part on remote oceanic islands, often with several species nesting together. Pair bonds between males and females form over several years, with the use of “ritualised dances”, and will last for the life of the pair. A breeding season can take over a year from laying to fledging, with a single egg laid in each breeding attempt. A Laysan albatross, named Wisdom, on Midway Island is recognised as the oldest wild bird in the world; she was first banded in 1956 by Chandler Robbins.

[Information from Wikipedia, with editing]

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“As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.” (Isaiah 31:5 KJV)

“I Am Determined to Live for the King” ~ Three-Plus-One Quartet – Faith Baptist


More Sunday Inspirations

Oceanitidae – Austral Storm Petrels

Diomedeidae – Albatrosses

Laysan albatross, named Wisdom


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