Buller’s shearwater (Puffinus bulleri)

loading
Buller's shearwater gliding over ocean, ventral view
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Buller’s shearwater fact file

Buller’s shearwater description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderProcellariiformes
FamilyProcellariidae
GenusPuffinus (1)

Buller’s shearwater has been described as flying with a grace and economy like no other, characterised by longer gliding motions and less wing flapping, each bird arcing and tilting seemingly without effort (3) (4). In flight, a dark bar on the pale grey wings and lower back forms an unmistakable and arresting ‘M’-shaped pattern from above (3) (4), easily distinguishing this shearwater from any other (2). Upperparts are otherwise brownish-grey, while underparts are white (2). The grey, wedge-shaped tail is broadly tipped in black, the long, slender bill is bluish grey with a darker tip, and the legs and feet are pink (5) (6).

Size
Size: 46 – 47 cm (2)
Wingspan: 97 – 99 cm (2)
Weight
342 – 425 g (2)
Top

Buller’s shearwater biology

Buller’s shearwaters return to the Poor Knights Islands in mid-September to court females and clean out their burrows before breeding (7). Nesting occurs in large, dense colonies (5), with egg-laying beginning in October (2) (7). The single white egg is incubated by both sexes for about 51 days, and most chicks fledge at around 90 days (5). The following April to late May sees the colonies departing once more for the north Pacific (5) (7).

The diet consists of krill, small fish, squid and jellyfish (6), and birds have only recently started to scavenge fishing boat scraps (5).

Top

Buller’s shearwater range

Amazingly, the estimated population of some 2,500,000 birds breeds on just one small island group (Poor Knights Islands) off New Zealand, where it is restricted to two main islands, Aorangi and Tawhiti Rahi, and five other islets and stacks. In the non-breeding season, these masses migrate to the north Pacific Ocean, from Japan to North America, and are occasionally found off South America (6).

See this species on Google Earth.

Top

Buller’s shearwater habitat

This marine, pelagic bird comes to shore only to breed (2), nesting in burrows, rock-crevices and ledges, often under dense vegetation (6).

Top

Buller’s shearwater status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

Top

Buller’s shearwater threats

Buller’s shearwater was previously caught in drift-nets in the north Pacific, with an estimated 4,000 birds killed annually, and may still be at risk from set-nets (6) (8). Longline fishing, trawling operations, and hand-and-reel lines may also pose a threat, although little documented evidence of this exists (6) (8). Furthermore, this bird’s very limited breeding range renders it extremely vulnerable to the effects of accidentally introduced predators, disease, storms and other catastrophes (6) (8). Indeed, the dense colonies nesting on the Poor Knights Islands were once devastated by introduced pigs. Thankfully, after the eradication of the pigs the shearwaters recovered spectacularly and now have a healthy, growing population, but the potential risk to a bird with such a small breeding range nevertheless remains (4).

Top

Buller’s shearwater conservation

There was a massive increase in the population after the eradication of feral pigs from Aorangi in 1936, with recolonising populations probably coming from the nearby predator-free island, Tawhiti Rahi (6). The large population is thought to be continuing to grow on the Poor Knights Islands, a protected, now predator-free nature reserve, and if it succeeds in expanding its range, this species may be downlisted to Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List (6) (7).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Top

Find out more

For more information on Buller’s shearwater see:

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

Top

Glossary

Pelagic
Occupying the open ocean.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2006)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1992) Handbook of the Birds of the World – Ostrich to Ducks. Vol. 1. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. eNature (October, 2006)
    http://www.enature.com/flashcard/show_flash_card.asp?recordNumber=BD0663
  4. Redwood Region Audubon Society (October, 2006)
    http://www.rras.org/newsletter/artoct03b.htm
  5. Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi Inc. (October, 2006)
    http://www.tiritirimatangi.org.nz/Fauna/ShearwaterBullers.htm
  6. BirdLife International (October, 2006)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=3929&m=0
  7. New Zealand Birds (October, 2006)
    http://www.nzbirds.com/birds/bullersshearwater.html
  8. Audubon (October, 2006)
    http://audubon2.org/webapp/watchlist/viewSpecies.jsp?id=53
X
Close

Image credit

Buller's shearwater gliding over ocean, ventral view  
Buller's shearwater gliding over ocean, ventral view

© Ray Wilson

Ray Wilson
ray@raywilsonbirdphotography.co.uk
http://www.raywilsonbirdphotography.co.uk

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Buller’s shearwater (Puffinus bulleri) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This species is affected by global climate change. To learn about climate change and the species that are affected, visit our climate change pages.

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog