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Flesh-Footed Shearwater: 15 Facts You Won't Believe!

Flesh-footed shearwater facts talk about their nest range, conservation status, and population range.

Are you looking for birds like the black-headed gull that spend a lot of time on the sea surface? If yes, then you will be happy to learn about the flesh-footed shearwater (Ardenna carneipes), a mysterious bird found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. This beautiful bird is covered in dark brown plumage, while the undersides are a bit pale. You can see the real beauty of this dark brown plumage on its wings when the bird is in flight. As a pelagic bird, this species spends a lot of time on the ocean, and during the breeding period, it begins to search for areas by the sea coast to make burrows.

Several burrows with nests can be found on the coast as these species breeds in colonies. This is a medium-sized bird belonging to the family Procellariidae that also contains other shearwaters. Breeding mainly occurs in areas like Western Australia, Lord Howe Island, New Zealand, and even in southwest Australia and South Australia. Soon after the chicks are ready, these birds will migrate far north to enjoy warm weather. It sustains itself by fishing on the surface of the water as well as by diving.

Want to learn more about this bird? Keep reading to find flesh-footed shearwater facts. Also, check out reddish egret facts and hamerkop facts.

Flesh-Footed Shearwater Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Flesh-footed Shearwater?

The flesh-footed Shearwater (Ardenna carneipes) is a form of medium-sized shearwater that is related to the Hemipuffinus group.

What class of animal does a Flesh-footed Shearwater belong to?

The flesh-footed shearwater belongs to the class Aves and to the family Procellariidae. It is closely related to the pink-footed shearwater. The family also includes birds like the albatross that also feed on fish and live close to the oceans.

How many Flesh-footed Shearwaters are there in the world?

With the endangered conservation status, we can understand that the population of this bird is on the decline. According to IUCN, only 148,000 individuals are left in the wild.

Where does a Flesh-footed Shearwater live?

It's quite hard to define the living area of this bird, but it can be most likely found in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Common breeding places include Western Australia, New Zealand, Lord Howe Island, and even South Australia. Non-breeding populations are far more dispersed and are often found in the warm waters of the North Pacific Ocean.

What is a Flesh-footed Shearwater's habitat?

As these are pelagic birds, the most common habitat for them will be continental shelves and slopes. During the breeding season, the birds hunt for habitats along the shore that is good for creating burrows. However, during the non-breeding period, you may often find the birds living on the surface of open waters. This bird prefers warm waters and has a habit of moving towards warm places.

Who do Flesh-footed Shearwaters live with?

The flesh-footed shearwater behavior includes being nocturnal, especially during the breeding season, and you can find populations and colonies around the coast. During this time, the species will often make a lot of noise, and it even prefers to build the nest during the night. As it breeds in colonies, you can find burrows situated near each other on the sea coast. In the non-breeding season, the flesh-footed shearwater adaptation leads these birds to migrate far north, often reaching as far north as Japan.

How long does a Flesh-footed Shearwater live?

The lifespan of this bird species is around 25-30 years. However, some shearwaters have even managed to live up to 55 years.

How do they reproduce?

Reproduction plays an important role in the flesh-footed shearwater life cycle because these birds need to survive at sea. This bird species usually breed during the months of September-May, and the females tend to lay only one egg during each cycle. We have noticed that this bird breeds based on the ocean conditions, and it can move quite a bit to find favorable conditions. During reproduction, the nest is made in burrows on land.

Both parents play an important role in incubating the eggs and also in taking care of the chicks. The flesh-footed shearwater defense is also quite strong during this time. The populations often breed in colonies, and during the breeding season, these pelagic birds are on the hunt for making burrows. Interestingly, the two main breeding areas of this bird are in the southwest Pacific Ocean, and another is in 42 islands present close to the coast of Western Australia. Some birds also breed on St. Paul Island, which is in the Indian Ocean. The coasts of New Zealand and Lord Howe Island also play a vital role in housing a lot of breeding pairs.

What is their conservation status?

 According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the flesh-footed shearwater is currently placed under the status of Near Threatened in the Red List.

Flesh-Footed Shearwater Fun Facts

What do Flesh-footed Shearwaters look like?

Flesh-footed Shearwater helps to know about birds.

One of the most important things about these birds is their physical description which helps you identify the bird. This bird is covered in blackish-brown plumage throughout its body, and it gets darker on the face. By its name, you can understand that its feet are flesh-toned. You can see a paler plumage on the underside of its body, especially noticeable on the underside of wings while the bird is in flight. The bill has a pinkish color with a dark tip.

One of the most common comparisons is that of pink-footed vs. flesh-footed shearwater because of their similar names. In addition, both the birds are closely related and form the superspecies group Hemipuffinus. However, the differences between the two are evident as the pink-footed shearwater has a lighter underside. Its bill is also gray-colored without a tip compared to the pinkish bill of the flesh-footed shearwater. Moreover, a difference is also seen in location, as the pink-footed shearwater is mainly found in the Pacific Ocean. In contrast, the flesh-footed shearwater location is mainly in the Indian Ocean.

How cute are they?

The flesh-footed shearwaters are majestic-looking bird species that might not be cute in the general sense. But, these birds especially look beautiful while fishing in the ocean. It may look quite similar to the glaucous gull.

How do they communicate?

The interesting thing about these birds is that the flesh-footed shearwater's noises are mainly made during the night. In this bird's usual calls, you can hear a 'gug-gug-gug' followed by the 'ku-kooo-ah' sound, which is made around three to six times. These calls last for around 10 seconds.

How big is a Flesh-footed Shearwater?

The flesh-footed shearwater range for average body length is around 15.7-18.9 in (40–48 cm). This bird also sports a wingspan of 38.9-45.6 in (99–116 cm). In comparison, the sooty shearwater has an average body length of 16-20 in (40.6-50.8 cm).

How fast can a Flesh-footed Shearwater fly?

We are yet to know about the exact flight speed of the flesh-footed shearwater. However, the shearwater species, in general, have a flight speed of around 34 mph (54.7 kph), especially seen in the Manx shearwater.

How much does a Flesh-footed Shearwater weigh?

The flesh-footed shearwater's average weight range is around 18.8-27 oz (533–765 g). They are slightly heavier than a black-headed gull

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no distinct names for the males and females of this species.

What would you call a baby Flesh-footed Shearwater?

A baby fresh-footed shearwater is known as a chick.

What do they eat?

We are yet to know about the exact food habits of this species. But, as it lives near the ocean, it is thought to derive food like squids and fish, especially during the breeding season. However, in the non-breeding season, the main source of food can be changed to non-cephalopod invertebrates. These birds also feed on lanternfish and Pacific saury. These birds catch their food by diving or plunging into the ocean. However, it may also hunt for prey on the surface of the ocean. This bird can hunt on its own or form loose flocks with members of the colonies.

Are they poisonous?

No, they aren't poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

No, as it's a threatened and vulnerable bird species, you cannot keep it as a pet.

Did you know...

Formerly, the binomial name of this species was Puffinus carneipes. But, later, the Puffinus carneipes were reclassified as Ardenna carneipes.

Are Flesh-footed Shearwaters endangered?

No, flesh-footed shearwaters are currently listed as Near Threatened. The main reason behind its population decrease is because of becoming accidental bycatch. Climate change and water pollution have also affected the lives of these birds. Evidence shows that flesh-footed shearwater compensatory mitigation with fisheries might be a way to save these birds.

How did Flesh-footed Shearwaters get their name?

Flesh-footed shearwaters got the name because of their unique pale pinkish feet. Also, the 'shearwaters' part of its name comes from its flying style, in which the birds usually shear across the front waves with the help of their wings.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our common murre facts and snowy plover facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable bird coloring pages.

Main image by Ed Dunens.

Second image by Ed Dunens.

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