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

32. Little Shearwater — (Puffinus assimilis) — Plate 13

32. Little Shearwater
(Puffinus assimilis)
Plate 13

Four subspecies:

Norfolk Island Little Shearwater (P. assimilis assimilis)

Kermadec Little Shearwater (P. assimilis kermadecensis)

North Island Little Shearwater (P. assimilis haurakiensis)

Subantarctic Little Shearwater (P. assimilis elegans)

The above subspecies cannot be distinguished from each other at sea.

Field Characters: 53/28. A small, black and white shearwater noticeably smaller than Fluttering (30) and Hutton's (31) Shearwaters. Upperparts entirely sooty black. The demarcation line between black and white on the face is above the eye, giving the impression of a much whiter face than with Fluttering and Hutton's Shearwaters. Underparts, entirely white.

The short, slender bill is lead coloured. Feet bright blue.

Differs from Fluttering (30) and Hutton's (31) Shearwater by its smaller size, black (not brown) uppersurface, its white face and white underwing. Differs from Audubon's Shearwater (61) by its whiter face and underwing, and white undertail coverts.

Faster on the wing than Fluttering Shearwater with more rapid wingbeats and shorter glides. In rough weather the flight consists of more banking and high-speed swooping between waves. Does not follow ships.

Winter breeder and widely distributed. Locally breeds on many offshore islands around New Zealand, from the Kermadecs in the north to the Auckland Islands in the south, and on Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Does not appear to range far from its breeding areas.