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Mount Orégano
Sue Burke
Spain's Bird of the Year 
14th-Feb-2007 12:32 pm

 Europe's smallest seabird, the storm petrel, has been chosen by the members of the Spanish Ornithological Society/Birdlife as the 2007 Bird of the Year. It's known as the paíño europeo in Spanish and Hydrobates pelagicus in neo-Latin.

Its survival is threatened by the electric light.

Though familiar to sailors, the small black bird with white markings only comes ashore to breed, and only at night. Since it rarely lands, it can barely walk. It nests on the shoreline in borrows, under boulders, or in rock crevices. To prevent predation by gulls, skuas, and mammals, it will avoid coming ashore if there's too much light, even on clear moonlit nights.

The storm petrel's worldwide population has declined steeply in recent years, and that's why the Society members chose it.

The principal danger to the storm petrel in Spain is light pollution from housing or business developments and from maritime routes. The Society is developing a Project Life "Important Bird Areas" survey to identify the key areas for these birds and get them special protection -- to keep them in the dark.

At least 5,000 pairs of storm petrels nest in northern and northwestern Spain, the Mediterranean Coast, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.

To learn about the Society's programs (in Spanish, of course), visit:


To learn more about the bird and see its name in all official European languages, visit the European Commission on the Environment storm petrel page:


For the natural history of this bird, which can run across the surface of water as it feeds on plankton, visit:


14th-Feb-2007 03:17 pm (UTC)
Very interesting. An exhibit at the New England Aquarium shows the same issue with sea turtles coming ashore. Lights from human habitation confuse them and they can't find their way back out to sea.

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