printed on Giclée Hahnemühle German Etching
Storm Petrel (Water Walkers)
Surely one of the most surprising species of bird. Storm Petrels (22 species of Petrels) are the very smallest of all seabirds but they are defiant in that fragility. Incredibly they manage to span the entirety of the globe surviving in the most extreme conditions, from the blistering Chilean desert to the brutal Antarctic. Amazing as it seems, the Wilson’s Storm-Petrel (one of the worlds most abundant birds) is also one of the very few birds to breed in the Antarctic.
Often known as ‘Water Walkers’, (for their lightness permits seemingly magical abilities) these tiny birds have such weak legs that they cannot support themselves for more than a few steps at a time on land.
In terms of mythological connections, Petrels have a long history of association with sailors and the sea. It was believed that the souls of sailors were embodied in these birds. Christian religion also plays heavy reference to these birds as symbolic representatives of Saint Peter walking on water.
With regard to conservation status, Petrels are placed on the Amber list. It is not surprising that seabird populations have declined faster than other bird taxa during last decades. Besides climate change and agricultural/industrial pollution, there is an ever increasing human population living along coasts which is putting a severe burden on marine and coastal environments. Fortunately, they are one of the most adapted groups of seabirds to the marine environment, traveling long distances and spending most of their lives over vast open oceans.
Watching closely for any shifts in population or distribution is a main priority amongst conservationists, with seabirds being some of the prime indicators of overall marine ecosystem health.
John James Audubon etched by Robert Havell
‘Birds of America’ NYC 1827
The original Birds of America is the most expensive printed book in the world and truly awe-inspiring.