Leach's Storm-Petrel
(Oceanodroma leucorhoa)


Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen (flickr.com/photos/jukka_jantunen)
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

Leach's Storm-Petrels breed throughout the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, returning to their nesting burrows at night. In winter, they remain widespread in both oceans, moving south to offshore, tropical waters (Halpin et al. 2018, Pollet et al. 2019). These behavioural traits make studying the species difficult and some aspects of the species' breeding biology remain unknown despite being numerous and widespread. Currently, the species' national population status relative to 1970 is unclear. It is therefore considered to be data-deficient. However, in eastern Canada, population declines of over 50% have been observed at many breeding colonies since the late 1990s, including Baccalieu Island, the largest colony in the world (Robertson et al. 2006, Wilhelm et al. 2015a, BirdLife International 2018f). In light of these findings, Leach’s Storm-Petrel was uplisted to Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List in 2016 (BirdLife International 2018f). Canada has a high global responsibility for this species. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Vulnerable2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaData DeficientData DeficientData Deficient

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada6,000,000 - 7,000,000 breeding birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

Conservation and management

Entire colonies of Leach's Storm-Petrel have been extirpated from their breeding islands by introduced and native mammalian predators (Huntington et al. 1996). Monitoring important colonies for mammals is therefore a priority for this species. Gull predation also appears to be a significant factor in the declines observed in Witless Bay, Newfoundland  (Stenhouse et al. 2000). Research is on-going to determine what is causing the observed population declines, including the extent to which the population is affected by contaminants, such as mercury, and plastic ingestion (Bond and Lavers 2013, Pollet et al. 2017), interactions with oil and gas platforms, light attraction (Hedd et al. 2018), and climate change (Mauck et al. 2018).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Gulf of St. LawrenceGulf of St. Lawrence, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Conservation
Gulf of St. LawrenceGulf of St. Lawrence, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NS -- Other
Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves , sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Conservation
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other
Scotian ShelfScotian Shelf, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NB -- Other
Scotian ShelfScotian Shelf, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NS -- Other