Hong Kong's first Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrel released back to the wild after rehabilitation at KFBG Wild Animal Rescue Centre

Animal Stories

We are pleased to report that a Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma monorhis), was successfully released back into the wild in Clear Water Bay on 17 Nov 2020. The bird represented the first confirmed record for this species in Hong Kong.

The ocean faring storm-petrel was found injured close to the Ap Lei Chau waterfront on 27 Oct 2020 and delivered to KFBG’s Wild Animal Rescue Centre by a member of the public. Our veterinarians and rescue team carried out a comprehensive health check upon its arrival and found that it had a very large, open, skin laceration over the top left shoulder area. Medical care including supplementary oxygen was required during its early stage of treatment.   After 3-weeks of rehabilitation and supportive feeding, the wound had fully healed, its flight was stronger and it was ready to be released back to the wild.

To reduce the threat of being taken by a predator, it was decided best to release it in the early evening under the cover of darkness (Petrels commonly fly at night). On 17 Nov, the storm-petrel was released at the southerly tip of Clear Water Bay where it had immediate access to open water.  As soon as it was removed from its transportation box and smelled the sea its demeanour changed and it flew off strongly from the hand, back to its natural habitat.

Let’s take a good look at this rare and beautiful Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrel. It has webbed feet which aid its ‘walking action’ on the water surface. Its small bill has a distinctive ‘tube’ on top, giving it away as a member of the group of seabirds known as tubenoses, which includes albatrosses, shearwaters and the fulmars. It has an excellent sense of smell, which helps it find food from great distances when flying over the open ocean. However, recent research found that because of this sensory mechanism, storm-petrels are more likely to eat plastic because marine plastic debris emits scents that trigger them to forage. This species is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.

Amanda Crow, Senior Animal Records Officer at KFBG, spoke about this case, saying “I know our team strives to give every animal the very best care that we can no matter the rarity of the species, but it’s experiencing and celebrating moments like this that make the job incredibly worthwhile. Very proud of the whole team!” Special thanks to local and overseas ornithologists for their invaluable advice, the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department for documenting this unusual record.

If you encounter an injured wild bird that needs to be rescued, please do not hesitate to contact SPCA 27111000, AFCD 1823 or KFBG 2483 7200. We care for injured wildlife in collaboration with the SPCA and AFCD.


Gloves were used during handling to prevent any dirt or oil transfer that might disrupt its feather waterproofing. (Photo credit: KFBG)


(Photo credit: KFBG)


Petrel outdoors for flight exercise. Here we can see its specialised tubenose and almost healed shoulder wound.

(Photo credit: KFBG)


Petrel on arrival at the WARC, its thick feathers conceal the open wound.

(Photo credit: KFBG)


(Photo credit: Helen Kwok Visuals)