Sooty Shearwater

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Image:Sooty shearwater.jpg

Common Name: Sooty Shearwater
Scientific Name: Puffinus griseus

Size: 15 ¾ - 19 ½ inches (40-50 cm)

Habitat: Southern Hemisphere; they are long-distance migrants, following a circular route, travelling north up the western side of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans at the end of the nesting season in March-May, reaching sub Arctic waters in June-July where they cross from west to east, then returning south down the eastern side of the oceans in September-October, reaching to the breeding colonies in November. They do not migrate as a flock, but rather as single individuals, associating only opportunistically.

Status: Near Threatened. Global Population: 20,000,000 mature individuals. Along with the Short-tailed Shearwater, the Sooty Shearwater is one of the most numerous shearwaters. The total population is probably in the tens of millions. In recent years however, numbers off parts of the West Coast have declined significantly. It is speculated that this decline may be as a result of the rise in sea surface temperatures. It is presently classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN.

Diet: Fish and squid. They can dive up to 220 feet (68 m) underwater for food, but more commonly take surface food, in particular often following whales to catch fish disturbed by them or fishing boats to take fish scraps thrown overboard.

Nesting: They breed in huge colonies and the female lays one white egg. These shearwaters nest in burrows lined with plant material which are visited only at night to avoid predation by large gulls. This shearwater is often loud, cooing and croaking while on the breeding grounds.

Cool Facts: This bird from a distance may look all black, but in good light it shows as dark chocolate-brown a silvery strip along the center of the underwing and gets its name by its dark plumage. Shearwaters get their name from the "shearing" look flight, dipping from side to side on stiff wings with few wing beats, the wingtips almost touching the water. Its flight is powerful and direct, with wings held stiff and straight, giving the impression of a very small albatross.

In New Zealand, tītī are traditionally harvested each year by the native Māori. Young birds just about to fledge are collected from the burrows, plucked and often preserved in salt.

Found in Songbird ReMix Seabirds 1

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