Photo: Dominic Sherony/Flickr Creative Commonsc

Audubon's Shearwater

Puffinus lherminieri

This small seabird is widespread in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans, mostly in tropical waters; in North America, it is regular over warm waters off the southeastern coast. At sea it is usually solitary or in small groups.
Conservation status Populations in Caribbean vulnerable to disturbance as human population of that region continues to grow. Formerly a common breeder in Bermuda, last recorded in 1980s. Has probably declined on larger islands in the Bahamas and elsewhere.
Family Shearwaters and Petrels
Habitat Open ocean. Almost exclusively over warm waters; follows warm current of Gulf Stream north. Very seldom comes near land in North America. Nests on islands, both along rocky coastal edges and in wooded areas farther inland.
This small seabird is widespread in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans, mostly in tropical waters; in North America, it is regular over warm waters off the southeastern coast. At sea it is usually solitary or in small groups.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Forages by diving and swimming underwater, rowing with wings; may be quite agile underwater. Also feeds by seizing items at surface. Probably feeds by night as well as by day. Does not ordinarily follow ships like some seabirds.


Eggs

One per season. White. Incubation is by both sexes, about 51 days. Young: Chick is brooded or attended by one parent for several days after hatching. Both parents feed young, visiting at night. Last feeding of young is about 70 days after hatching; 3-5 days later, young departs from nest. Leaving at night, young climbs to highest point nearby, makes its first flight out to sea.


Young

Chick is brooded or attended by one parent for several days after hatching. Both parents feed young, visiting at night. Last feeding of young is about 70 days after hatching; 3-5 days later, young departs from nest. Leaving at night, young climbs to highest point nearby, makes its first flight out to sea.

Diet

Squid, fish. Diet not well known, apparently mostly small squid and fish. Has been reported to eat many sardines at times.


Nesting

Breeds in colonies on islands. Active at colonies only at night. Adults may arrive at colony 3 months before time of egg-laying. Members of mated pair spend much time together at nest site, rubbing bills together, often calling loudly. Nest: Site is in narrow natural crevice in rock, in underground burrow, or on ground under dense vegetation, usually with little or no nest lining added.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Moves north in Gulf Stream in late summer and fall. Northernmost records (off New England) tend to coincide with periods of highest water temperature. Some also move into Gulf of Mexico. Dispersal distance is quite limited compared to long migrations of some shearwaters.

Download Our Bird Guide App

Migration

Moves north in Gulf Stream in late summer and fall. Northernmost records (off New England) tend to coincide with periods of highest water temperature. Some also move into Gulf of Mexico. Dispersal distance is quite limited compared to long migrations of some shearwaters.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Twittering calls and mewing notes heard at night in breeding colonies.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

Explore Similar Birds