Townsend’s Storm-Petrel

Range Map
Oceanodroma socorroensis

Until 2016, this bird was believed to be a subspecies of the Leach’s Storm Petrel. Research showed variations in vocalization and DNA studies weighed in to justify a species split. Added to the list of species were the Townsend’s Storm-Petrel and the Ainley’s Storm-Petrel. Some taxonomists wish for more evidence to support the reclassification.

The two added species each share nesting locations only on a few islets at the southern end of Guadalupe Island, off of the northwestern coast of Mexico, but do so at different times of the year. Townsend’s occupy the site in late May to the end of June, fledging their young in late September and early October. Ainley’s Storm-Petrels breed from mid-November through December, with most nestlings fledging from early March through to mid-April.

Taxonomists regard both the new species (Ainley’s and Townsend’s Storm-Petrels) as monotypic (no subspecies).

Townsend’s Storm-Petrels are regularly sighted during pelagic birding tours off the coast of San Diego County, but all my meetings took place in Mexican waters during my 2017 voyage to the Revillagigedo Islands.

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