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Great Shearwater

ID Info
  • Great Shearwater
  • Great Shearwater
  • Great Shearwater
Silhouette SeabirdsSeabirds
Great ShearwaterArdenna gravis
  • ORDER: Procellariiformes
  • FAMILY: Procellariidae

Basic Description

Great Shearwaters are ocean nomads, journeying thousands of miles each year from remote South Atlantic breeding grounds to cool North Atlantic waters in the boreal summer (their nonbreeding season). They fly low over the ocean on stiff, straight wings, but arc higher and wheel steeply in strong winds. On the water, they show a strong dark-and-white contrast, with a dark cap set off by a white collar. When they take flight, they reveal brown smudges on the belly and underwings that help differentiate them from other shearwaters.

More ID Info
image of range map for Great Shearwater
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

The best way to see Great Shearwaters is to go on a pelagic birding trip in the North Atlantic during the summer months. This species often comes fairly close to shore, though, so if you can’t take a pelagic trip, you still might see this shearwater on a shorter whalewatching outing. And while it’s usually rare to see any seabirds from shore in eastern North America, Great Shearwaters are occasionally seen from land during storms or unusual wind conditions.

Other Names

  • Pardela Capirotada (Spanish)
  • Puffin majeur (French)
  • Cool Facts