Sooty Shearwater, Ardenna grisea as it is scientifically known, belongs to the Procellariidae family. Ardenna was first termed by an Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi in 1603 to describe a seabird, and grisea means gray in medieval Latin. These birds live in small islands in the southern South Pacific and Atlantic oceans, around New Zealand, the Falkland Islands, Tierra del Fuego, Auckland Island, and Philip Island off Norfolk Island, and often visits North America. Its habitat includes open oceans and continental shafts and sea surface. The breeding season starts in late September and early October. In Australia and New Zealand, the nesting season is September to May. It reaches breeding grounds some time prior and one white egg is laid and incubation and care of the chick are done by both the parents. The breeding is considered monogamous. The nest is made in-ground with a burrow and the nest is made by using materials like leaf litter. The family stays together until the young is capable to be independent. It mostly feeds in colonies on crustaceans like fish, squid, and krill. It has a dark plumage, dark gray upper parts and gets paler on the underparts, and has narrow wings. They have a long, slender bill and short tail. It is considered to be of medium size. The webbed feet are used underwater. It is known to live in flocks and breed in colonies. The conservation status is Near Threatened and the population is believed to be continuously declining and it is been recorded that their conservation is required from habitat destruction due to pollution and other climate changes. It is known to travel long distances during migration. Migration happens to find better conditions. It is quite fascinating to know about these shearwaters, so read on, and if you are interested read about the sociable weaver and umbrellabird too.
What do they prey on?
Crustaceans like fish, squid, and krill
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
How much do they weigh?
1.6 lb (0.7 kg)
How long are they?
16-20 in (400-510 mm)
How tall are they?
What do they look like?
Chocolate-brown and gray
What are their main threats?
Predation and climate change
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Southern South Pacific and Atlantic ocean
Sooty Shearwater Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a sooty shearwater?
Shearwaters are birds.
What class of animal does a sooty shearwater belong to?
Sooty Shearwaters belong to the class of Aves of birds.
How many sooty shearwaters are there in the world?
The estimation states that there are around 20 million shearwaters in the world but the number is declining.
Where does a sooty shearwater live?
These birds live in small islands in the southern South Pacific and Atlantic oceans, around New Zealand, the Falkland Islands, Tierra del Fuego, Auckland Island, and Philip Island off Norfolk Island.
What is a sooty shearwater's habitat?
These birds are generally found in open oceans. These birds are widespread at sea but prefer upwellings and over the continental shelf in cooler waters. They are also found where cold and hot water masses meet. They might also come to shores if the water is deep. The breeding lands consist of lands with soils for burrows and rock crevices for nests.
Who do sooty shearwaters live with?
These birds are found in groups of hundreds or thousands.
How long does a sooty shearwater live?
These birds can live up to 20 years.
How do they reproduce?
The breeding season starts in late September and early October. In Australia and New Zealand, the nesting season is September to May. Sooty Shearwaters breed in large colonies and these birds are known to be monogamous. During courtship, the pairs may call in duets. The nest is made with leaf litter and the nest is in a chamber at the end of a burrow. The burrow system is known to be complex and it varies with locality as several pairs may share common entrances. These birds tend to return to the same area year to year but may not the same burrows every year. A single white egg is laid by the female around late November to mid-December. The incubation period takes 53-58 days and is done by both the parents. The chick's care is also done by both the parents. Chicks fledge at about 86-106 days and get independent at fledging around late April to early June. These species start breeding around five to nine years of age.
What is their conservation status?
The status of these birds is Near Threatened.
Sooty Shearwater Fun Facts
What do sooty shearwaters look like?
These Shearwaters have a dark plumage with large and narrow wings. They have a long, slender bill and narrow and short tail. The upperparts are sooty brown in color while the underparts are slightly greyer with the same color flash on the outer side of the underwings. The feet of these birds are dark gray. The axillaries of these birds are blackish and the eyes of this species are dark brown. The males and females are similar and the juveniles or the young resemble the adults.
How cute are they?
Some people consider this bird cute because of its color.
How do they communicate?
These species are usually silent at the sea but they are most vocal or the most calls happen at the night and on the breeding colonies. The main call is loud and is rhythmically repeated which is generally produced by duetting birds from within burrows or on the surface. There are also soft calls during the day when a movement is detected.
How big is a sooty shearwater?
These species are medium-sized birds with a length around 16-20 in (400-510 mm) and weigh up to 1.6 lb (0.7 kg).
How fast can a sooty shearwater fly?
The exact speed of this bird is unknown but they are known to be good flyers as they migrate long distances and the wingspan of these birds is 37-43 in (940-1100 mm).
How much does a sooty shearwater weigh?
Sooty Shearwaters weigh around 1.6 lb (0.7 kg).
What are their male and female names of the species?
There are no specific names for the male and female of the species.
What would you call a baby sooty shearwater?
A baby Sooty Shearwater is called a chick.
What do they eat?
Sooty Shearwaters feed on crustaceans fish, squid, krill, and offal from fishing vessels hunted or taken from the surface and by diving. This bird frequently plunges or dives for food to depths around 16 m and it has been recorded that it can swim to depths over 60 m.
Are they dangerous?
Not much information is available if this bird is dangerous to humans.
Would they make a good pet?
This bird is a migratory and a wild bird and it is difficult to keep them as pets.
Did you know...
This bird is known as a west-coast seabird.
The name 'shearwater' signifies the bird's habit of gliding stiff, still wings between waves above the water surface. Underwater, the shearwater uses its webbed feet and half-opened wings to propel itself. It sleeps both on land and water or on the grounds in burrows.
This seabird, like others, migrates to find the best ecological conditions for feeding, breeding, and raising the young. During migration, these shearwaters can travel up to 620 mi (1000 km) in a day. The Sooty Shearwater crosses the equator twice a year to find food in the best areas and water.
Feral cats, rats, mustelids, feral pigs and dogs are the major predators of this bird.
The Sooty Shearwaters are often confused with the short-tailed shearwater. The short-tailed shearwater is similarly colored and slightly smaller.
In the incident of 18 August 1961, groups or flocks of shearwaters, disoriented from eating toxic algae, flew at Monterey Bay and crashed into homes. This partly inspired Alfred Hitchcock's movie 'The Birds'.
In southern New Zealand, the young of these birds are taken annually for food and oil by Maori people.
It is believed that in North America, the population of visiting Sooty Shearwaters have declined considerably and this is associated with the general rise in sea surface temperatures.
Why are shearwaters called mutton birds?
Shearwaters are known for their ability to to cut or shear water with their wings. The name mutton bird was given to this bird by European settlers, who used to kill the birds for food. They found that the flesh of this bird tasted like mutton.
How deep can a shearwater dive?
This bird frequently plunges or dives for food to depths around 16 m and it has been recorded that this bird can swim to depths over 60 m.
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