Posted by Scott Barnett on July 08, 2004 at 16:57:45:
In Reply to: Final Petrel update posted by Ken Kurtis on July 08, 2004 at 15:09:58:
Wish I had seen these petrel posts before now.
This is Ashey Storm Petrel breeding season. They are pelagic coming to shore cliffs only to breed in the summer. They are a fantastic fairy of a small bird. They indeed are nocturnal. They are attracted by the boats lights left on at night and frequently become "stranded" aboard when they "alight" upon deck. You see, they need the sea breeze skimming over the top of the water with which to take off and touch down upon the water. When they accidently land aboard a boat's deck, the wind is cut off at deck level by the high gunnels(sides) of the boat. Right near the deck floor either there is no wind at all or its too turbulent to take off again, so they are stuck. Usually they crawl behind something; tanks unfortunately and get crushed when divers are moving stuff. This bird probably had young; it probably wasn't injured; and just by tossing it lightly into the wind, you would have discovered that just before it dropped into the water it would have spread its wings and started "bouncing" across the water with each little crest of a swell. Lightly touching down, feet extended, letting the wind and sea bounce it back upward like a little kite. They never were meant to walk, just fly, so they are very easy to catch on board not running away.
Dive crews aboard TruthAquatics boats tell me they frequently receive these small guests and my experience of them was at SantaBarbara Isle. Same story as yours except I just lightly tossed them into the wind and away they went, bouncing across the water, towards their nesting burrows in the cliff face.
They are closely related to of all birds: Albatrosses! You can tell by the bilaterally symmetric pair of tubes running parallel atop their becks.
Very cool LBJ of the night (LBJ aka "Little Black Job" or "Little Brown Job" or Little Blue Job" or all of the above modified by "Large ..."
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