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Tuatara: Volume 21, Issues 1 and 2 (New Zealand Albatrosses and Petrels: an Identification Guide)

20. Sooty Shearwater — (Puffinus griseus) — Plate 8

20. Sooty Shearwater
(Puffinus griseus)
Plate 8

Field Characters: 109/47. A large, dark brown, slender-bodied shearwater with long narrow wings. The underwing is variably white, and conspicuous at sea under favourable light conditions.

Bill long, blackish-grey; feet dark brown.

Flight fast and directional, with high arcing on stiffly held wings, interspersed with rapid wingbeats. The fast, high, banking flight above the horizon is readily seen from great distances. In calm conditions periods of stiff wingbeats are interspersed with glides, low above the surface of the sea. Dives readily for food. Does not follow ships.

Differs from Short-tailed Shearwater (18) by its somewhat larger size, white underwing, longer bill and tail; from the Flesh-footed Shearwater (15) by its faster, more direct flight, white underwing, and dark bill and feet; and from Wedge-tailed Shearwater (17) by white underwing, dark feet and shorter tail.

A summer breeder on many islands and some headlands from Three Kings to Macquarie Island. Also present on some islands off the coasts of New South Wales and Tasmania. Most abundant shearwater in New Zealand waters during summer, when flocks of several thousands can be encountered in and south of Foveaux Strait. Migrates to North Pacific for southern winter and vast flocks can be observed along migration routes.