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Bird name:

Sooty Shearwater

Puffinus griseus




Petrels and Shearwaters (Procellariidae)





Euring 5

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Breeding Location:


Breeding Type:


Egg Colour:


Number of Eggs:


Incubation Days:

50 - 53

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Material:

Burrows are lined with plant material.

Nest Location:

Burrow on island or headlands.




Sooty Shearwater: Long-winged seabird the size of a Common Gull. Overall dark grey-brown with darker grey-brown on the head, wings, and tail. The wings have pale grey linings, and have pale-brown edging to the feathers. Grey, slender bill with short tube on top. Strong, direct flight. Sexes and ages similar. Has direct flight with rapid wingbeats and long glides but can be seen resting on the water.

Range and Habitat

Sooty Shearwater: Passage visitor to the UK & Ireland. Birds are visible during autumn months as birds move from summer home on north Atlantic to winter home in south Atlantic waters. Best viewing opportunities are from sea watching places, as birds do not come ashore, but stay out at sea.

Breeding and Nesting

Sooty Shearwater: Pairs usually mate for life. Courtship involves duet calls and "mutual nibbling." Nests on islands or headlands are in burrows up to 3 metres long. One egg per breeding season. Both parents forage for food during the day, often far from the nest, and return to feed chick at night.

Foraging and Feeding

Sooty Shearwater: Makes shallow dives at surface of water, seizing prey just below, like small fish, shrimp, crustaceans, squid, and jellyfish. Feeds in association with other seabirds and marine mammals.


Sooty Shearwater: Makes inhaled and exhaled "koo-wah, koo-wah, koo-wah" notes on breeding grounds; usually silent at sea.

Similar Species

Sooty Shearwater: Cory's Shearwater has white underparts, a yellow bill, and lighter upperparts. Great Shearwater has a distinct black cap, white underparts with a dark belly patch and white rump patch.

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