|Conservation status||Abundant, with total population recently estimated at about 20 million, but numbers are declining in many areas. Has disappeared from some former nesting islands because of habitat degradation. In southern New Zealand, some young are taken annually for food and oil by Maori people, but this controlled harvest has little or no impact on total population. In recent years, off parts of North American west coast, numbers of visiting Sooty Shearwaters have declined significantly; this may be related to a general rise in sea surface temperatures there.|
|Family||Shearwaters and Petrels|
|Habitat||Open ocean. Widespread at sea, but concentrates around upwellings and over continental shelf in cooler waters, also where cold and warm water masses meet. May come close to shore if water is deep. Breeds on islands in southern oceans with soil for burrows or with suitable rock crevices for nest sites.|
Forages by plunging into water from a few feet above the surface and swimming underwater, propelled by wings; also dives from surface, and seizes items at or just below surface while sitting on water. Sometimes feeds in association with whales, dolphins, and other seabirds.
One. White. Incubation is by both sexes, averages 52-56 days. Young: Both parents feed young, visiting at night, feeding frequently when chick is small and less often as it matures. Finally young bird is abandoned, and it eventually leaves to go to sea. Period from hatching to departure from nest averages about 97 days. Young usually departs from island at night.
Both parents feed young, visiting at night, feeding frequently when chick is small and less often as it matures. Finally young bird is abandoned, and it eventually leaves to go to sea. Period from hatching to departure from nest averages about 97 days. Young usually departs from island at night.
Mostly fish, crustaceans. Diet in North Pacific mainly small fish, also euphausiid shrimp and other crustaceans, squid, jellyfish. In North Atlantic may feed mostly on euphausiid shrimp and fish.
In Australia and New Zealand, nesting season is September to May. First breeding at age of 5-9 years. Breeds in colonies on islands, with most activity in evening and at night. In courtship, pairs may call in duet. Nest: Site is in burrow dug in soil, sometimes in natural crevice in rock. Burrow may be up to 10 feet long. Nest is loose foundation of leaves and grass.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Adults from southern colonies move north rapidly in April and May, passing Atlantic Coast of North America mostly in late spring. Moves north on broad front in Pacific. Peak numbers off California in late summer, probably corresponding to southward movement. Some, possibly non-breeders, are present at all seasons off our Pacific Coast.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
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Songs and CallsSilent at sea; a variety of cooing and croaking notes on breeding grounds.
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