Great Shearwater Ardenna gravis


This large shearwater is easily identified by its distinctive plumage, marked by the dark cap and brown belly-patch, with the white underwing also relieved by variable brown markings. The Greater Shearwater breeds in very small numbers on one island in the Falkland Islands, but is otherwise confined as a breeding bird to Tristan da Cunha and the seabird ‘hotspot’ of Gough, where an estimated five million pairs breed. Given such exceptional abundance, it is unsurprising that harvesting of this species by local people has continued relatively unabated since historical times. During the non-breeding season, the Greater Shearwater moves north in April and May, reaching as far north as Newfoundland and even Greenland, and moving south again, apparently mainly through the eastern Atlantic in August to October, although it should be mentioned that small numbers apparently remain in the South Atlantic all year.

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© Ian Sinclair

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Great Shearwater (Ardenna gravis), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: