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Audubon’s Shearwater

A bird that is always on the move, the Audubon’s Shearwater glides close to the surface of the water, either individually or in large flocks. Audubon’s Shearwaters average 12 inches in length, with a wingspan of 27 inches, and weigh six ounces. This small shearwater is generally dark brown above and pale below, with pinkish legs, and a dark, hooked bill. The sexes are similar, and distinguishable from other shearwaters by a white spot in front of the eye and dark under-tail coverts that extend to the tip of the long tail, which projects beyond the tips of the bird’s relatively short, broad wings.

Audubon’s Shearwaters feed on small crustaceans, squid and fish by diving into the water from above the surface. These birds prefer warmer, tropical waters in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. They are known to nest on isolated islands, using rock crevices and vegetation clumps.

According to the 2005 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Waterbird Conservation Plan for the Southeast U.S., which includes species that represent the agency’s highest conservation priorities, Audubon’s Shearwaters are at high risk of losses from predation on their West Indian nesting grounds. Audubon’s Shearwaters are declining overall. There are only about 60,000 Audubon’s Shearwaters left globally; they have disappeared from Bermuda, where they were once common, and have declined on islands within the Bahamas. Smaller populations are particularly at risk.