Great Shearwater

Puffinus gravis

Order

PROCELLARIIFORMES

Family

Petrels and Shearwaters (Procellariidae)

Code 4

GRSH

Code 6

PUFGRA

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Unknown

The Great Shearwater is a large seabird which breeds on Nightingale Island, Inaccessible Island, Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island. This is one of the only bird species which migrates from the south to the north in winter months. Eggs of the Great Shearwater are laid in the open grass or in a small burrow. During migration, these birds follow a circular pattern. They fly up the eastern edge of South and North America, cross the Atlantic, then head south down the eastern edge of the ocean. These birds feed on fish and squid caught by diving in the water, and their conservation status is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Great Shearwater: Large shearwater, scaled, gray-brown upperparts, white underparts, brown markings on belly. Dark cap contrasts with white face. Tail is dark above with conspicuous white rump band and gray below. Dark, hooked bill. Pink legs, feet. Flies on deep wing beats followed by long glide.


Range and Habitat

Great Shearwater: This species breeds on the islands of Tristan de Cunha in the southern Atlantic Ocean. They are migratory, and spend May to early November as a nonbreeding visitor to the north Atlantic and may occur along the Atlantic Coast of North America from Florida to Canada. They may also wander into the Gulf of Mexico. They are pelagic, only coming ashore to breed.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

Generally silent

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The Great Shearwater is also called the Hagdon, the Wandering Shearwater, the Great Shearwater, and the Common Atlantic Shearwater.
  • It has a unique method of self-defense: it ejects foul-smelling oil from its nostrils.
  • These birds need a running start to become airborne. They run along the water surface before taking flight.
  • A group of shearwaters are collectively known as an "improbability" of shearwaters.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for Great Shearwater

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Irina Rud-Volga

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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UnderpartsX
Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.
UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
BellyX
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
CapX
The area on top of the head of the bird.
FaceX
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
RumpX
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
PelagicX
The pelagic is a type of bird whose habitat is on the open ocean rather than in a coastal region or on inland bodies of water (lakes, rivers). An example of a pelagic bird is the blacklegged kittiwake.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X