Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis

  • Order: Procellariiformes
  • Family: Procellariidae
  • Polytypic: 3 subspecies
  • Authors needed...
  • © Victor O. Ayala Perez

The Northern Fulmar breeds in Arctic to Temperate areas in the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It is entirely restricted to the northern hemisphere as a species and does not overlap anywhere with its southern relative, the Southern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialoides). The Northern Fulmar is a common to abundant component of northernmost, cold water areas. Their extension to the south in the non-breeding season is highly dependent on food sources in the north. Northern Fulmars breed on a variety of food they find on the ocean’s surface, or near the surface. What is most impressive about this seabird is the incredible polymorphism, they come in pale grey and white, a mid grey, and a dark sooty coloration spanning the general color and darkness of almost the entire family, but in one species! All forms of the Northern Fulmar share a yellowish bill with dark edges to each bill plate, creating a distinct bill pattern for a Northern seabird. What is also of interest is that the Pacific populations are the most polymorphic, while the Atlantic come largely in variations of the pale form of the species. The Pacific population (rogersi) also shows a stronger dark terminal portion to the tail. Given the number of cryptic species or potential for this in the Procellariformes it deems further research if the separate ocean basin populations could be distinct species rather than subspecies. Northern Fulmars breed in colonies, and breed on cliffs.

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© William W. H. Gunn

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

Recommended Citation

Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: