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The Flesh-footed Shearwater stands out, a seabird of elegance and interest, with its unique features fascinating scientists and bird watchers. Distinguished by the color of its bill and the vibrancy of its feathers, this medium to large bird is a marvel in the natural world.

The breeding habitats of the Flesh-footed Shearwater are located on secluded islands off the southern coast of Australia and the northern coast of New Zealand, making its life cycle a mystery to be solved. Its unique mating call pattern and the need for conservation efforts to protect this vulnerable bird species further increase the intrigue surrounding it.

Let's learn more about the Flesh-footed Shearwater, a bird that continues to fascinate and inspire.

Flesh-footed Shearwater's Life Cycle

life cycle of shearwater

The life cycle of the Flesh-footed Shearwater begins on the nesting grounds in New Zealand, where they form colonies on islands such as the Chickens and Mercury groups, Ohinau and Karewa Islands. The population count, based on recent surveys, indicates less than 12,000 pairs remain.

The birds then migrate to the North Pacific Ocean, spending the northern summer in the seas off eastern Japan. These seabirds, medium to large in size, are characterized by their dark coloring and long, powerful hooked bills.

Threats to the Flesh-footed Shearwater include plastics ingestion, exposure to land-based pollutants, increased levels of radioactivity, and the risk of being caught in commercial and recreational fisheries.

This life cycle information is key to understanding the conservation needs for this unique species.

Distinctive Bill Coloration

The Flesh-footed Shearwater seabird has a distinctive bill coloration. This feature is characterized by a rich, dark chocolate hue, making it stand out. The bill of the bird is entirely dark chocolate in color, exhibiting a dark-tipped pink bill.

The bill shape and pattern of the Flesh-footed Shearwater are unique, being shorter-tailed and stockier compared to the dark-morph Wedge-tailed Shearwater. The bill of the Flesh-footed Shearwater is significantly different from other dark Procellaria petrels, such as the Parkinsons.

The bill coloration, a uniform dark brown, imparts a striking appearance to the bird. This feature distinguishes the Flesh-footed Shearwater from other seabirds, such as the Sooty Shearwater. The Flesh-footed Shearwater's bill coloration, along with its size and shape resembling the Pink-footed Shearwater, adds a unique allure to the bird.

Anatomy and physiology

study of body structure

The Flesh-footed Shearwater showcases an intriguing combination of anatomical and physiological characteristics that enable them to survive and thrive in their oceanic habitat.

The Flesh-footed Shearwater is characterized by its medium to large size and a powerful hooked bill. This bill is thick and pale pink at the base which sets it apart from other dark Procellaria petrels. The bird's long, relatively broad wings and a long pointed tail contribute to its ability to soar and glide effortlessly through the air.

The Flesh-footed Shearwater displays a uniformly dark brown plumage that contrasts sharply with its pink-white bill and white-flesh colored legs. The distinctive foot color, similar to the base of the bill, is a key identification feature of this species.

Despite their dark plumage making them difficult to see in the field, the unique shape of their bill and the color of their feet are distinguishing features. These features not only identify the Flesh-footed Shearwater but also highlight the fascinating interplay of anatomy and physiology within this species.

Colorful Feather Patterns

vibrant plumage and intricate designs

The Flesh-footed Shearwater exhibits vibrant and intricate feather patterns. Its feathers are a deep, dark chocolate color, contrasting strikingly with its dark-tipped pink bill. The bird's overall shape and unique coloration make it distinguishable from other species.

Species flags in eBird-powered field guide apps often help differentiate the Flesh-footed Shearwater from other introduced species on the West Coast of North America. The bird's foot color, also dark chocolate, serves as another identification feature.

Foot ColorBill Shape
Dark chocolateNormal field guide
Dark ProcellariaDifferences in bill shape

The Flesh-footed Shearwater breeds on islands off the coast of southern Australia and northern New Zealand. It is considered a native species in these regions, but also occurs in other parts of the world as an introduced species. The West Coast of North America's official eBird totals include records of what were once considered exotic populations, due to natural vagrancy or captive provenance. Bird records committees play a vital role in differentiating between native and introduced populations. The colorful feather patterns of the Flesh-footed Shearwater contribute to its identification and conservation efforts.

Parental Care

protective behavior of parents

The Flesh-footed Shearwater displays a strong commitment to parental care. This is evident in the bird's active involvement in the incubation of eggs and the nurturing of its offspring. The bird's parental care can be broken down into three main tasks: incubation, feeding, and nurturing.

The Flesh-footed Shearwater adheres to a bi-parental care system, signifying that both parents share responsibilities. This involves both the mother and father bird taking part in the incubation of the egg. They alternate roles, ensuring the egg is always cared for during their long breeding cycle.

The feeding responsibility is also shared between the two parents. Both mother and father bird take on the task of finding food for their chick. They often travel great distances over the open sea to accomplish this. The feeding process is done through regurgitation, with both parents providing food for the chick in this manner.

The nurturing of the chick is the final aspect of the Flesh-footed Shearwater's parental duties. The parents look after the chick until it is ready to fledge and become independent. The survival and well-being of their offspring is a testament to the dedication of the Flesh-footed Shearwater to parental care.

Breeding Grounds

birds nesting in meadows

The breeding grounds of the Flesh-footed Shearwater are primarily located among the islands off the southern coast of Australia and the northern coast of New Zealand. These breeding grounds function as sanctuaries for the seabirds, serving as the main sites for their nesting and the rearing of their young.

The birds favor remote islands for their colonies, where they find appropriate nesting habitats. The plentiful population of the Flesh-footed Shearwater in these locations bears witness to the successful conservation efforts aimed at preserving their breeding grounds.

The Threatened Species Occasional Publication and the Action Plan for Australian Birds have underscored the need to protect these colonies, recognizing their vital role in maintaining the species' population. Measures are in place to mitigate threats, such as pelagic longline fishing and habitat degradation, to ensure the preservation of the Flesh-footed Shearwater breeding grounds for the benefit of future generations.

Unique Mating Call Pattern

The Flesh-footed Shearwater is a seabird species native to Northern New Zealand and Lord Howe Island. It is distinguished by its unique mating call pattern. This seabird's mating call is loud, undulating, and raucous, akin to cats in a brawl. The vocalization only occurs on land, making it a silent traveler over the sea. Despite their dark chocolate plumage, which often makes them hard to spot, the distinctive call of the Flesh-footed Shearwater greatly aids researchers and birdwatchers in their identification.

Hence, the unique mating call pattern of the Flesh-footed Shearwater contributes significantly to the enchantment and mystery surrounding this Pacific seabird.


protecting our natural resources

The main concern revolves around the conservation of the Flesh-footed Shearwater, a unique seabird species native to Northern New Zealand and Lord Howe Island. The species is vulnerable and its survival directly depends on conservation efforts designed to mitigate various threats.

The limited distribution of the Flesh-footed Shearwater necessitates the implementation of effective conservation strategies.

Pollution and climate change are major threats that can gravely impact the population abundance of these seabirds. Longline fishing also endangers the Flesh-footed Shearwater species, since they often get entangled in fishing lines and drown. To address these threats and ensure the future of the species, urgent conservation measures are required.

The protection of the habitats of Flesh-footed Shearwater and raising awareness about their conservation needs form an integral part of these measures. On executing these steps, we can contribute to the survival of the Flesh-footed Shearwater.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Is the Flesh-Footed Shearwater Found?

The bird Flesh-Footed Shearwater is primarily found in the Pacific and Indian oceans. Its breeding colonies are located off the southern coasts of Australia and the northern parts of New Zealand. This species is quite common in these areas, often spotted alone or feeding in groups with other shearwaters.

Are Flesh-Footed Shearwater Endangered?

Flesh-Footed Shearwaters are indeed endangered. The endangerment of these birds is attributed to threats in the form of pollution, climate change, high bycatch in fisheries, ingestion of plastic, exposure to predators, and loss of habitat. Ensuring the protection of their breeding grounds and foraging areas is significant to their survival.

What Is the Difference Between Sooty Shearwater and Flesh-Footed Shearwater?

The main differences between Sooty Shearwater and Flesh-footed Shearwater lie in their plumage, size, migratory patterns, and conservation status. Sooty Shearwater is notable for their extensive migration. In contrast, Flesh-footed Shearwater is found commonly over the Pacific and Indian oceans.

Where Are Pink Footed Shearwater Found?

Pink-footed Shearwaters are primarily found in the Pacific and Indian oceans. The bird, characterized by its dark chocolate-colored plumage and dark-tipped pink bill, breeds near Australia and New Zealand. Threats to this species include pollution and climate change.

Are Cliff Swallows and Flesh Footed Shearwaters Related Species?

Yes, Cliff Swallows and Flesh Footed Shearwaters are not related species. While both birds have unique cliff swallow behavior and habitat, they belong to different families and have distinct physical and behavioral characteristics. Cliff Swallows are part of the Hirundinidae family, while Flesh Footed Shearwaters belong to the Procellariidae family.


In conclusion, the Flesh-footed Shearwater is an intriguing seabird with its distinctive dark chocolate plumage and dark-tipped pink bill. Its medium to large size and unique physical characteristics make it easily distinguishable from other shearwater species.

The species faces significant threats such as pollution and climate change, highlighting the need for effective conservation measures to protect its breeding grounds and foraging areas.

By understanding the life cycle, anatomy, and behavior of the Flesh-footed Shearwater, we can better appreciate and contribute to the conservation efforts for this vulnerable species.