Thursday, August 5, 2021

Northern Fulmar

Northern Fulmars joined the shearwaters near our boat. Judging by their tubed noses, fulmars are related to shearwaters and storm-petrels. Northern Fulmars are abundant in Alaska and the Canadian Arctic east into northern Europe. In the New World, fulmars breed in remote areas and are seldom seen except at sea. European populations have greatly increased and are said to be “ubiquitous.”
Fulmars are polymorphic. They are usually dark in Washington seas, but also come in white and intermediate plumages. The significance of this polymorphism perplexes ornithologists. Although different morphs interbreed indiscriminately, many colonies are made up of the same colored birds. Fulmars delay breeding for their first decade, and then lay but one egg per year. One result is that fulmars are among the longest-lived of birds. Once fledged, fulmars often live to 40 or more years. Fulmars do most of their foraging at night, finding their invertebrate prey by smell  (Mallory et al. 2020). They often scavenge from fishing boats, and were quick to check our little boat on 29 July 2021.

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