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Tristram's Storm-petrel Hydrobates tristrami

This species is classified as Near Threatened because it is thought to have a small breeding range. A higher level of threat classification might be justified if the range size is confirmed and found to be declining.

Taxonomic source(s)
Brooke, M. de L. 2004. Albatrosses and Petrels Across the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note
Hydrobates tristrami (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Oceanodroma.

Hydrobates tristrami Christidis and Boles (2008), Oceanodroma tristrami Salvin, 1896

Distribution and population
Hydrobates tristrami breeds in the Hawaiian archipelago (USA), on Nihoa (2,000-3,000 pairs), Necker, French Frigate Shoals (max 280 pairs), Laysan (500-2,500 pairs), Pearl and Hermes Reef (1,000-2,000 pairs), and may also breed on Midway, Lisianski and Kure (Rauzon et al. 1985, Harrison 1990, Enticott and Tipling 1997, Baker et al. 1997, McClelland et al. 2008). It also breeds on a few small predator-free islets of the Bonin and Izu Islands, Japan (McClelland et al. 2008), including six islands in the Bonin group, three of which were newly identified as part of a survey that concluded in 2005. They were not detected on the Volcano Islands, where the species bred before WWII (Chiba et al. 2007). These estimates suggest that the world population is no greater than 30,000 birds, including 10,000 pairs (Brooke 2004). This species is difficult to monitor due to its high sensitivity to human disturbance during the incubation phase (Marks and Leasure 1992) and due to its habit of breeding in the winter months when access to its remote breeding colonies is more difficult. Little is known about its post-breeding dispersal, but some move north to the seas east of Japan (Carboneras 1992a, Enticott and Tipling 1997).

Population justification
Population estimates for breeding colonies suggest that the world population is no greater than c.10,000 pairs (i.e. c.20,000 mature individuals) and c.30,000 birds (Brooke 2004), while the population in Japan has been estimated at c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in Japan (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable although predation by invasive species, human disturbance, marine pollution and stochastic events may cause future declines.

The species feeds while pattering on the sea surface, principally consuming squid and fish (Brooke 2004). It nests in burrows in sand or guano, under clumps of vegetation or in recesses in scree (Brooke 2004). In Hawaii, first egg laying occurs in December with the last chicks fledging in June (McClelland et al. 2008). The species has been known to live for at least 14 years (Marks and Leasure 1992).

The most serious threat to the species is the potential introduction of rats or other predators to any of its primary breeding sites (Harrison 1990): a large population of H. tristrami which bred on Torishima Island until the early 1960s was apparently exterminated by introduced cats and rats (Carboneras 1992a, Enticott and Tipling 1997), and potentially large colonies could have been extirpated from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands for the same reason (C. S. Harrison in litt. 1999). It is known to breed on only a very few rat-free islets in Japan, indicating a high degree of susceptibility to introduced predators on its natal colonies. It is thought that rats may predate on both adults and chicks in burrows (Chiba et al. 2007). Predation and irritation by introduced tramp ants Monomorium pharaonis could pose a problem for the species (E. van der Werf in litt. 2007), although studies on Laysan Island indicate that impacts on breeding success are minimal, with nest failures attributable to ants recorded as 1% (n=116) (McClelland and Jones 2008). Nest failures were due to aggravation rather than direct predation, with chicks abandoning nest sites (McClelland and Jones 2008). Nests most likely to be affected were situated under vegetation (McClelland and Jones 2008). On Laysan, the species's eggs are predated by Laysan Finches Telespiza cantans and on Nihoa, possibly by Nihoa Finches T. ultima (Marks and Leasure 1992). Telespiza cantans is known to routinely check H. tristrami burrows. A study on Laysan confirmed T. cantans as an effective egg predator, depredating 90% of unattended eggs, and despite this vulnerability egg neglect was observed in 10% of nests (McClelland et al. 2008). The same process is expected on Pearl and Hermes Reef where T. cantans has been introduced, possibly resulting in a reduction in nesting success (Marks and Leasure 1992). Other native species, including the Bonin Petrel Pterdroma hypoleuca, Laysan Albatross Phoebastria immutabilis, and particularly the Wedge-tailed Shearwater Ardenna pacifica may hamper reproductive success on Laysan and Tern Island (McClelland et al. 2008). Extreme weather events can affect breeding; in 1913, birds on Laysan suffered heavy losses owing to the flooding of burrows, followed by sandstorms (Warham 1990). Light pollution and the contamination of the sea with plastics and other litter are no longer considered likely threats to this species (I. C. T. Nisbet in litt. 2010).

Conservation Actions Underway
Limited research has been carried out into the species's life history and ecology. Most of the known breeding population is protected by the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, which is devoid of human inhabitation, except when researchers are present (Marks and Leasure 1992). A recent research project has investigated the potential threat from introduced ants (E. van der Werf in litt. 2007). Black Rat Rattus rattus eradications were attempted on Muko-jima and (Muko)tori-jima in 2008 but failed, and so must be considered as candidates for any future eradication plans for the islands (M. Sato in litt. 2011). Plans to eradicate rats from these islands, among others, are underway with results expected Feb-Mar 2012 (M. Sato in litt. 2011). Conservation Actions Proposed
Expand research efforts into its ecology. Monitor population trends. Improve knowledge of its status on Japanese islands. Quantify the effect of Telespiza cantans and T. ultima on breeding success (Marks and Leasure 1992). Take every effort to prevent the introduction of predators to breeding sites.

Baker, P.; Baker, H.; Seto, N. 1997. Tristram's Storm petrel Oceanodroma tristrami on Midway: a probable breeding record. 'Elepaio 57: 80.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Brooke, M. de L. 2004. Albatrosses and Petrels Across the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Carboneras, C. 1992. Hydrobatidae (Storm-Petrels). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (ed.), Handbook of the birds of the world, pp. 258-271. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Chiba, H., Kawakami, K., Suzuki, H. and Horikoshi, K. 2007. The distribution of seabirds in the Bonin Islands, southern Japan. J. Yamashina Inst. Ornithol. 39: 1-17.

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.

Enticott, J.; Tipling, D. 1997. Photographic handbook of the seabirds of the world. New Holland, London.

Harrison, P. 1985. Seabirds: an identification guide. Christopher Helm, London.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Marks, J. S.; Leasure, S. M. 1992. Breeding biology of Tristram's Storm-petrel on Laysan Island. Wilson Bulletin 104: 719-731.

McClelland, G. T. W.; Jones, I. L. 2008. The effects of invasive ants on the nesting success of Tristram's Storm-petrel, Oceanodroma tristrami, on Laysan Island, Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Pacific Conservation Biology 14(1-2): 13-19.

McClelland, G. T. W.; Jones, I. L.; Lavers, J. L.; Sato, F. 2008. Breeding biology of Tristram's Storm-petrel Oceanodroma tristrami at French Frigate Shoals and Laysan Island, Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Marine Ornithology 36(2): 175-181.

Rauzon, M. J.; Harrison, C. S.; Conant, S. 1985. The status of the Sooty Storm-petrel in Hawaii. Wilson Bulletin 97: 390-392.

Warham, J. 1990. The petrels: their ecology and breeding systems. Academic Press, London.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Anderson, O., Calvert, R., Capper, D., O'Brien, A. & Taylor, J.

Harrison, C., Nisbet, I. & VanderWerf, E.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Hydrobates tristrami. Downloaded from on 01/12/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/12/2015.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Hydrobatidae (Northern Storm-petrels)
Species name author Salvin, 1896
Population size 20000 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 13 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species