Townsend's Storm-Petrels in our offshore habitat!

Alvaro Jaramillo

Hello all,

   My friend Fernando Medrano has been on Guadalupe Island, Mexico working on seabirds. They have been tagging and tracking Townsend’s Storm-Petrels and surprisingly, some are coming as far north as the latitude of San Francisco. This was in late July, during the incubation period I gather. Look at the photo on twitter below. It looks like it just got into Marin county waters before heading south. Apparently it was not the only one, although most of their birds were offshore from the Channel Islands. By my estimate, this bird is about 10 miles offshore from the continental shelf.


The other point worth noting is that of 300 Townsend’s they handled, most had dark to nearly dark rumps, not the big white rump patches that most birds identified as Townsend’s (in the books and sightings) seem to show. This is concerning! Are we misidentifying Townsend’s or is there a primarily white rumped population on another island, and those are the ones that are being seen in southern California? Here is a post on that issue:


They will be back to track Ainley’s Storm-Petrels, so we shall see if they also head north or if they are keeping to southern waters.

With that in mind there is more chance of seeing a storm-petrel from a pelagic than on dry land – and we have spots open for our Sunday trip out of Monterey, as well as the Monday trip out of Half Moon Bay:

If the weather cooperates we shall be going to deeper waters in the Pioneer Canyon as there has been a lot of activity in the waters offshore from the continental shelf, and there have been bluefin tuna sighted out there. We will have more info on that after Wednesday when some boat are going offshore looking for tuna. Tuna water is good water for pelagic birding!



Alvaro Jaramillo