Fork-Tailed Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma furcata)

This easily recognized bird is quite tame and can sometimes be caught by hand. It often follows boats looking for handouts.

Description:

Unlike most storm-petrels, the fork-tailed storm petrel is lighter on the abdomen than the rest of its dark grey body. Its distinctive forked tail is what gives this bird its name.

Distribution:

Exclusively North American, fork-tailed storm-petrels are commonly found throughout British Columbian coastal waters. Its range extends from northern California to the Alaskan Aleutian Islands. Breeding occurs only in the more northern portions of its range.

Ecology:

Living on the open sea, this storm-petrel comes to coastal islands in the north Pacific to breed in colonies. They dig shallow burrows in the soil, and lay a single egg, which has a distinctive circle of tiny dots around its larger end. Incubation is by both parents, and lasts for 46-51 days. After 50-60 days, the young petrels are ready to leave the nest for the open sea.

The diet of these small birds consists of small fish and invertebrates found near the surface of the open sea, where they can easily be scooped up.