Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus

  • Order: Procellariiformes
  • Family: Oceanitidae
  • Polytypic: 3 subspecies
  • Authors: Jacob Drucker


Geographic Variation

Three subspecies currently recognized:

oceanicus (Kuhl 1820); no type locality in the original description, but South Georgia was designated the type locality by Murphy (1918).

Breeds on subantarctic islands throughout the southern ocean. Migrates to North Atlantic and North Pacific. See Detailed Description.

exasperatus Matthews 1912; type locality New Zealand seas

Breeds on Antarctic mainland. Migrates throughout the Indian Ocean and Oceania. Does not differ from oceanicus in plumage. This is the largest subspecies, although "it is uncertain whether the size variation [between oceanicus and exasperatus] is simply clinal or whether there is any discontinuity that would justify the subspecific differentiation" (Brooke 2004).

chilensis Murphy 1936; type locality Wollaston Island, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Breeds in the Cape Horn region of Chile, dispersing north up the Humboldt current as far as Panama.

This subspecies was differentiated by Murphy (1936: 754) solely on the basis of smaller size, but further differs from oceanicus and exasperatus in having pale tips to greater and median underwing coverts in fresh plumage, and in occasionally showing a pale patch towards the rear of the belly (Howell 2012, Harrison et al. 2013). Often referred to as "Fuegian Storm-Petrel". The complicated nomenclatural history of chilensis is reviewed by Palma et al. (2012).

Related Species

Originally named Procellaria oceanica by Kuhl (1820). Currently placed in the genus Oceanites, which refers to the children of the Greek sea god Okeanos; oceanicus refers directly to the ocean. English name refers to Alexander Wilson (1766-1813), a poet of Scottish origins who became one of the pioneers of American ornithology. Formerly known as "Wilson's Petrel".

Other members of Oceanites include Elliot's Storm-Petrel (O. gracilis), to which Wilson's currently shows the closest affinities to; New Zealand Storm-Petrel (O. maorianus); and the recently described Pincoya Storm-Petrel (O. pincoyae) (Harrison et al. 2013).

The genus Oceanites (Kaserling and Blasius 1840) is the oldest named genera of storm-petrel (Peters 1931), and forms the basis for the naming of the super-group Oceanitinae. This clade taxa now often is elevated to family status (Oceanitidae), following Penhallurick and Wink (2004). After Nesofregetta, Oceanites is the second-oldest lineage in Oceanitidae. The genus Garrodia is considered by some to be nested in Oceanites (Marchant and Higgins 1990).

Recommended Citation

Drucker, J. (2013). Wilson's Storm-Petrel (Oceanites oceanicus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.wispet.01