Least Storm-Petrel


(Oceanodroma microsoma)

As its name implies, Least Storm-Petrel, only seldom-seen off the southern California coast, is North America’s smallest storm-petrel. It tends to stay farther away from large boats than other storm-petrels, and thus is usually seen only from a distance where it is identified by the combination of its tiny size and “out of control” bat-like flight pattern. In addition its short unforked, wedge-shaped tail gives it a “tailless” appearance. Those who have obtained closer-up photos of this species have generally had better success from a boat small enough to allow closer approach.

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