Monday, July 30, 2007

Great shearwater fact sheet

Puffinus gravis | Great shearwater

The majority of great shearwaters pass the Azores from the end of August through September, the time that they make their way to their breeding grounds. They nest from September to May in the Tristan da Cunha group (5+ million pairs), on Gough Island (600,000 to 3 million pairs) and on the Falkland Islands (just a few pairs). Great shearwaters are particularly renowned for being one of only a few bird species that migrate (in a figure of 8 pattern) from breeding grounds in the southern hemisphere to winter in the northern hemisphere. In the Azores they can be observed in large numbers, especially off Santa Maria, Pico, Terceira and São Miguel Islands. They fly close to the water, with their wingtips almost touching, or "shearing" the water's surface. The great shearwater makes a particular sound, like a "eeyah" cry, which is usually heard when they rest in large groups on the water and when they undertake long flights. This species is classified as a "common vagrant" in the Azores.

Length: 43 - 51 cm

Weight: 715 - 950 g

Wingspan: 100 - 122 cm

Population: c.15,000,000

Longevity: 85 months

Diet: Fish (e.g. mackerel when they are in the Azores), squid, crustaceans and fish offal

Incubation: 53 - 57 days

Eggs: 1 (white, oval and slightly pointed)

Nesting sites: Remote volcanic islands and on sloping grounds

In other languages:
Portuguese: Cagarro de coleira
Spanish: Pardela capirotada
French: Puffin majeur
Italian: Berta dell'Atlantico
German: Großer sturmtaucher
Dutch: Grote pijlstormvogel
Swedish: Större lira
Norwegian: Storlire
Danish: Stor skråpe
Finnish: Isoliitäjä

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