Identification of Short-tailed Shearwater in the North Atlantic Ocean

Published on 09 May 2019 in Main articles

By Robert Flood and Ashley Fisher, illustrations by John Gale

Abstract Short-tailed Shearwater Ardenna tenuirostris is an abundant species of the Pacific Ocean. We reviewed records for the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and suggest that a regular pattern of movement in these oceans is hitherto unrecognised. It follows that the vagrancy potential of Short-tailed Shearwater to the North Atlantic probably is greater than suggested by the few documented records. Short-tailed may have been overlooked or confused with the similar-looking Sooty Shearwater A. grisea and, in the northeast Atlantic, dark-plumaged Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus. Criteria for the separation of these three species at sea are presented in a bid to establish a clearer picture of the status of Short-tailed Shearwater in the North Atlantic. Separation of Short-tailed from Sooty Shearwater builds on existing criteria; characters for separation from dark-plumaged Balearic Shearwater are new.

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Short-tailed Shearwater, Torishima, Japan, 11th May 2015. Note the compact build, cute face, relatively short bill, steep forehead, short thick neck, subdued pale underwing-covert panel with secondary coverts paler than primary coverts. Kirk Zufelt