The nests are burrows, holes in the ground, which, once built, are retained each season. The same pair returns to this nest year after year. Nests are visited at night, when there are fewer predators, animals that hunt them for food. Unlike some other procellariiforms, storm-petrels do not engage in fancy courtship displays or rituals.
Storm-petrels have a variety of calls that vary between males and females. These birds tend to be solitary, alone, though some flocking occurs.
Storm-petrels are monogamous (muh-NAH-guh-mus), having only one mate, and begin breeding at four or five years of age. Breeding sites are chosen according to their location in relation to water and food. Some female storm-petrels participate in what is known as the "prelaying exodus." During this period they feed at sea while producing their single egg, which allows them to reach the best feeding area before returning to the nest. Once back at the nest, she lays her egg within twenty-four hours.
The burrow nests are usually made by the males. The burrow is usually at the end of a tunnel, and parents take turns sitting on the egg anywhere from two to four and a half days.
In late December 2003, two British men, Bob Flood and Bryan Thomas, announced that they had seen a New Zealand storm-petrel—believed to have been extinct since 1850.
The New Zealand storm-petrel had not been seen since 1850, when its population was decimated by rats. Experts later confirmed that the bird had survived undetected, on a predator-free island. According to BirdLife International, eleven more New Zealand storm-petrels were detected in mid-January 2004 and were filmed for television.
This goes on typically for thirty-eight to forty-two days. The down-covered chick is hatched and attended to by its parents until it can control its own body temperature. At that point, parents visit the chick only to feed it. The chick can go six to seven days without food.
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