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Short-tailed Shearwater Ardenna tenuirostris


The Short-tailed Shearwater exclusively breeds on islands off southern and eastern Australia, where the species’ chicks (known as muttonbirds) are extensively harvested under license from the government. However, during the non-breeding season (from late April to mid September), the species performs one of the most remarkable of trans-equatorial bird migrations, with the entire population (estimated at perhaps as many as 30 million individuals) moving north across the central Pacific to the Bering Sea, where the birds pass the boreal summer, before they start to move south again in August, following a more easterly track on the return journey. Some individuals even reach the Arctic Ocean during this period. The Short-tailed Shearwater is gregarious at sea, as well as on land, and feeds mainly underwater, diving up to 70 m below the surface in pursuit of small fish, crustacea and cephalopods. Despite its English and scientific names, neither is this species’ tail especially short in relation to other shearwaters, nor is the bill particularly slender.

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© F. N. Robinson

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

Recommended Citation

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