European Storm-petrel Hydrobates pelagicus


Justification of Red List category
Although this species may have a restricted range, it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is unknown but is not thought to approach the threshold for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
In Europe (which covers >95% of the breeding range), the breeding population is estimated to be 438,000-514,000 breeding pairs, equating to 876,000-1,030,000 mature individuals or 1,314,000-1,545,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Brooke (2004) also estimated the total population to number around 1,500,000. The population is therefore placed in the band 430,000-519,999 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend justification
The population trend is unknown in Europe (BirdLife International 2015).

Distribution and population

About 90% of the known breeding population is concentrated in the Faroe Islands (Denmark; 250,000 pairs), United Kingdom (21,000-34,000 pairs), Ireland (99,056 pairs) and Iceland (50,000-100,000 pairs), with smaller colonies in France (40-50 pairs), Greece (90 pairs), Italy (3,700-4,500 pairs), Malta (5,025-8,035 pairs), Norway (1,000-10,000 pairs), Spain (4,699 pairs) and a further 1,000 pairs on the Canary Islands, Spain (BirdLife International 2015). The species winters off western and southern Africa.


This is a marine species feeding mainly on small fish, squid and crustaceans, but it will also feed on medusae and offal. It feeds mainly on the wing by pattering and fishing, and will occaisionally follow ships and attend trawlers. Breeding starts in May and June, resulting in the formation of colonies on rocky ground on offshore islands and stacks that are largely free of mammalian predators (del Hoyo et al. 1992).


Rats have caused signficant declines and are implicated in numerous colony losses. Predation of adults and chicks by domestic cats in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean is widespread and has the potential to drive declines in mainland colonies where control of cat populations is not undertaken. The level of predation is currently negligible but as pressure from other threats increase this factor may drive further declines. In the Molène archipelago, France, the population has declined over the last two decades due to continuous nest-site destruction (Carboneras et al. 2014).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species occurs within 88 existing marine Important Bird Areas (IBAs) across Europe. Within the EU it is listed in 130 Special Protection Areas, in the Natura 2000 network. Conservation prospects for the Mediterranean population recently improved through provision of nestboxes, which has led to an increase in breeding numbers due to increased nesting success, while selective culling of gulls on same Spanish islands led to a marked reduction (c. 65%) in the number of petrels predated, and to a relative increase in their survival and breeding success probabilities of 16% and 23%, respectively (Carboneras et al. 2014). There is an active rat eradication and management programme in Britain designed to improve the conservation status of this species, Leach's Storm-petrel (H. leucorhous) and Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Rats, cats and other invasive mammals should be kept off breeding islands and these species should be removed from islands on which they are present (Tucker and Heath 1994).


Text account compilers
Hermes, C., Stuart, A., Ashpole, J, Bennett, S., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Fisher, S., Fjagesund, T., Butchart, S., Harding, M.

Dowsett, R.J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Hydrobates pelagicus. Downloaded from on 05/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 05/12/2023.