Monday, August 2, 2021

Sooty Shearwater

Fog and a four-foot ocean swell on 29 July 2021 assured that, compared to the pelagic birding trip I made twenty years ago, I saw fewer birds. Birds become evident when we pulled up behind a shrimp boat, which the seabirds follow, hoping for morsels when the nets are emptied. One of the first birds we saw were Sooty Shearwaters. 

The distributions of oceanic birds is endlessly fascinating. One of the most common of the world’s seabirds, Sooty Shearwaters breed in huge numbers—up to 2.5 million pairs in some colonies—on islands off southeastern Australia, New Zealand, southern Chile, the Falkland Islands, and Tristan da Cunha. After breeding, these shearwaters begin one of the largest of bird migrations. They appear in all the world’s oceans (although not in the northern Indian Ocean). They begin to move toward the northwest from their colonies and then proceed to the east. They arrive in western North America and Europe in late summer, before proceeding to fly back to their breeding grounds (Carboneras et al. 2020). 

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