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petrel(pĕ`trəl), common name given various oceanic birds belonging, like the albatross and the shearwater, to the order known commonly as tube-nosed swimmers. There are two families of petrels: the storm petrels (Hydrobatidae) and the diving petrels (Pelecanoididae). Many skim the waves so closely that they give the appearance of walking on the water. They are tireless fliers by day and at night rest on the water; many return to land only to breed. Two species that frequent the Atlantic coast off North America are Wilson's petrel, Oceanites oceanicus (also called Mother Carey's chicken), a surface skimmer and habitual boat follower, and Leach's petrel, Oceanodroma leucorhoa, which has a bounding, erratic flight and breeds on islands off the New England coast. The giant petrel, or giant fulmar (the size of an albatross), and the auklike diving petrel, Pelecanoides urinatrix, are both found in the Southern Hemisphere; the fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), or fulmar petrel, inhabits the North Atlantic. The giant petrel is actually a member of the family Procellariidae (shearwatershearwater,
common name for members of the family Procellariidae, gull-like sea birds related to the petrel and the albatross and including the fulmar. Shearwaters are found on unfrozen saltwaters all over the world, with 35 species in North America.
..... Click the link for more information. family). Petrels are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
..... Click the link for more information. , subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Procellariiformes, families Hydrobatidae and Pelecanoididae.
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A sea bird of the families Procellariidae and Hydrobatidae, generally small to medium-sized with long wings and dark plumage with white areas near the rump.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
any oceanic bird of the order Procellariiformes, having a hooked bill and tubular nostrils: includes albatrosses, storm petrels, and shearwaters
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005