Sooty Shearwater

Ardenna griseus




Petrels and Shearwaters (Procellariidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:


Number of Eggs:


Incubation Days:

52 - 56

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

In burrow or rock crevices.

Nest Material:

Lined with grasses or leaves.





Sooty Shearwater: Large shearwater with dark gray-brown body, darkest on tail and primaries. Underparts from upper chest downwards are similar to upperparts but slightly paler. Underwing coverts are paler brown or gray; dorsal area may show scaly pattern, especially on scapulars; chin and upper throat are slightly paler. Wings are narrow and pointed. Bill is long. Legs and feet are pale flesh, dull pink-flesh or gray, the outer sides of tarsus and outer toes often have a dusky tinge. Iris is black. Sexes and Juveniles are similar.

Range and Habitat

Sooty Shearwater: Very common birds off the California coast in the late summer, but they are only visitors to North America. Extremely long distance migrants, as their breeding grounds are on islands in the far southern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Pelagic, only comes ashore to breed. Nests on islands with suitable soil for digging nest burrows, or rocky islands with crevices for nesting.

Breeding and Nesting

Sooty Shearwater: One white egg is laid in burrow lined with leaves and grass. Incubation ranges from 52 to 56 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Sooty Shearwater: This shearwater feeds on small fish, squid, shrimp and other crustaceans, jellyfish and offal from fishing boats. It snatches its prey from the ocean surface, or plunges from flight into the water and pursues its prey underwater. It propels through the water with powerful beats of its wings, and is known to reach depths of 67 meters.


Sooty Shearwater: Makes inhaled and exhaled "koo-wah, koo-wah, koo-wah" notes on breeding grounds; usually silent at sea.

Similar Species

Sooty Shearwater: Short-tailed Shearwater is smaller and has a steeper forehead. Flesh-footed Shearwater has pink legs and bill.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Also called the breast area, it is the frontal area on the body containing the breastplate and major flight muscles.
The area of the face just below the bill.
The primaries are the flight feathers specialized for flight. They are attached to the "hand" equivalent part of the wing.
The tarsus is the part of the leg between the knee and the foot of the bird, similar to the lower leg in humans.
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