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Bird name:

Great Shearwater

Puffinus gravis




Petrels and Shearwaters (Procellariidae)





Euring 5

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Breeding Location:

Islands, Islands, rocky

Breeding Type:

Monogamous, Colonial

Egg Colour:


Number of Eggs:


Incubation Days:

53 - 57

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Material:

No nesting material.

Nest Location:

Small burrow or in the open grass; on sloping ground, mainly in areas of tussock grass or Phylica woodland.




Great Shearwater: Long-winged seabird a bit larger than a Common Gull. Dark grey upperparts and upperwings with pale edging, white uppertail coverts, black tail, grey-brown cap and white collar. Underparts white except for brown vent and brown patch on belly. White wing linings and thin, black bill. Sexes and ages similar. Flies with fairly quick wingbeats followed by glides on rather stiff wings.

Range and Habitat

Great Shearwater: Visitor to the UK. Breeds in south Atlantic, near Falkland Islands. Birds remain offshore, and can be seen primarily from Northern and Western Isles, western Ireland, and Cornish coast. Most likely to be seen in late summer and early autumn.

Breeding and Nesting

Great Shearwater: Breeding is on oceanic island shores in far south of southern hemisphere. Nesting is colonial, with nests built among rocks or in burrows. A single egg is laid, and is and incubated by both parents for an average of 55 days. Both parents care for chick for about 15 weeks.

Foraging and Feeding

Great Shearwater: Feeds on small fish and squid from surface or below water. Also eats crustaceans, fish offal. Hunting techniques include seizing prey on ocean surface, plunge-diving from height of up to 10 meters, and pursuit diving.


Great Shearwater: Gives a low nasal, squealing call when resting on water.

Similar Species

Great Shearwater: Cory's Shearwater lacks the distinct cap, has a yellow bill, lacks a dark belly patch, and lacks dark markings across the underwing coverts.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The area on top of the head of the bird.
Similar to the upper part of the human neck, located at the back of the crown.
Birds do not have two separate cavities for excrement and reproduction like humans do. In birds, there is one single entrance/exit that suits both functions called the vent, cloaca or anus.
4 and 6 letter alpha codesX

The four letter common name alpha code is is derived from the first two letters of the common first name and the first two letters of common last name. The six letter species name alpha code is derived from the first three letters of the scientific name (genus) and the first three letters of the scientific name (species). See (1) below for the rules used to create the codes..

Four-letter (for English common names) and six-letter (for scientific names) species alpha codes were developed by Pyle and DeSante (2003, North American Bird-Bander 28:64-79) to reflect A.O.U. taxonomy and nomenclature (A.O.U. 1998) as modified by Supplements 42 (Auk 117:847-858, 2000) and 43 (Auk 119:897-906, 2002). The list has been updated by Pyle and DeSante to reflect changes reported by the A.O.U from 2003 through 2006.


The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) was established in the mid-1990 s as a cooperative project among several federal agencies to improve and expand upon taxonomic data (known as the NODC Taxonomic Code) maintained by the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

To find the ITIS page for a bird species go to the ITIS web site advanced search and report page at You can enter the TSN or the common name of the bird. It will return the ITIS page for that bird. Another way to obtain the ITIS page is to use the Google search engine. Enter the string ITIS followed by the taxonomic ID, for example "ITIS 178041" will return the page for the Allen's Hummingbird.

Parts of a Standing birdX
Head Feathers and MarkingsX
Parts of a Flying birdX