Fun Gannet Facts For Kids

Divya Raghav
Nov 14, 2022 By Divya Raghav
Originally Published on Aug 26, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Gannet facts, like the northern gannet is also known as the Solan goose, are interesting.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.7 Min

There are three types of gannets which are the northern gannet, the Cape gannet, and the Australasian gannet. The northern gannet became formerly sought after for food in parts of its range, and this traditional exercise continues to go within the Outer Hebrides of Scotland and the Faroe Islands.

The favored nesting sites of these species of gannets are on coastal hillsides or the surface or head of the cliffs. If those are not available, gannet birds will nest in a colony on islands or flat surfaces. Nests are built from seaweed, plants, earth, and particles from the sea.

If you like these, do check out our fact files on palm cockatoo and umbrellabird.

Gannet Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a gannet?

The gannet bird is a seabird and the northern gannet bird is the biggest species of the gannet family. This bird is local to the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and its breeding places are in Western Europe and northeastern North America.

What class of animal does a gannet belong to?

Gannets, like northern gannets, are the largest seabirds of the order Suliformes and belong to the Aves class of animal.

How many gannets are there in the world?

In 1992, the IUCN estimated the northern gannet population to be 526,000. However, after considering an estimate produced for BirdLife International in 2004 of the European populace of northern gannets, the IUCN revised its international population for these birds to be around 950,000-1,200,000 individuals.

Where does a gannet live?

The northern gannet's breeding range is on each of the side of the North Atlantic on coasts along the Gulf Stream. There are nesting colonies within the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and at the islands off the east coast of Canada. Northern gannets normally nest in large colonies, on cliffs overlooking the sea, or on small rocky islands. The water temperature needs to be cool enough for Atlantic mackerel and herring, the primary food supply for gannet birds. These regions additionally overlie the continental shelf.

Northern gannet nesting colonies may be located within the far north of these areas where it can be very cold and stormy. The northern restriction in the gannet's breeding range relies upon the presence of waters that can be freed from sea ice throughout the breeding season. Therefore, while Greenland and Svalbard provide appropriate breeding sites, Arctic areas have summers that can be too short to permit northern gannets to nest their eggs and raise a brood, which calls for about 26-30 weeks.

What is the gannets' habitat?

Gannets, like northern gannets, forage particularly in saltwater, even though they sometimes follow fish into brackish mouths of huge rivers, and wandering individuals have turned up in uncommon places within the Great Lakes or different inland freshwater bodies. They mostly keep away from Arctic and tropical waters, mainly spending their lives from the latitudes of eastern Canada to the Carolinas. A few gannets are often found in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. It is unusual to see a gannet flying over very deep water and they prefer to stay over the continental shelf. This is where their primary prey species are found in the sea. For nesting, they choose cliff ledges at the rims of bays or oceans, in particular locations near huge concentrations of prey fish.

Who does gannet live with?

Like the Australasian gannet, gannets live in a huge colony on the coast of the sea and headland or islands. Gannets are monogamous birds, so they live in pairs during breeding and mate for life.

How long does a gannet live?

The northern gannet, one of the largest seabirds, lives for up to 35 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

The favored nesting sites of these species of birds are on coastal hillsides or cliffs. If those aren't available, the northern gannet will nest in a colony on islands or flat surfaces. Nests are built from seaweed, plants, earth, and particles from the sea. Adult males normally acquire the materials. The northern gannet lays one egg that is light for such huge seabirds. If the egg is broken or damaged inside the nest, gannet birds will lay another egg if the primary is lost. Incubation takes 42-46 days, for the duration of which time the egg is surrounded by heat produced by the brooding bird's warm, webbed feet in the nests. The young birds reach maturity after 13 weeks.

What is their conservation status?

Gannet birds are not endangered, and the IUCN lists gannets as a species of Least Concern, as they are extensively found around the world. There is a big population that appears to be developing because of excessive breeding success with 75% of eggs generating fledged young.

Gannet Fun Facts

What do gannets look like?

The adult plumage is white with darkish brown to black-tipped wings. The primary flight feathers, initial coverts, and alulae are darkish. The head and neck are tinged buff-yellow, becoming distinguished during the breeding season. Males are more deeply colored than females. The eyes have a mild blue to mild gray iris surrounded by a skinny black ring of naked pores and skin. The beak is long, robust, and conical with a slight downward curve on the end, and a pointy reducing edge.

In adults, the beak is blueish gray with darkish gray or black edges. There is a black groove going the length of the mandible that merges into the pores and skin across the eyes. A black band of naked skin additionally separates the flight feathers of the brow and throat from the bill, which offers the gannet some kind of face markings. The feet are joined by a membrane that can range in coloration from darkish gray to darkish brown. There are colored strains running alongside the feet that maintain alongside the legs. Northern gannets are barely bigger and have a thicker bill than the Cape gannet.


How cute are they?

Gannets like the Australasian gannet are cute because of their unique appearance and black-tipped wings.

How do they communicate?

The Cape gannet actively signs its presence while foraging at sea. They emit calls solely when conspecifics had been seen in their location, and that they tend to call loud while in a big colony.

How big is a gannet?

These species of birds are 66.9-70.9 in (170-180 cm) long when measured with wings and 34.2-39.4 in (87-100 cm) tall without wings.

How fast can a gannet fly?

Adults of these species of birds use their huge wings to fly at speeds of 40.4 mph (65 kph).

How much does a gannet weigh?

Adult gannets weigh 5.1-7.9 lb (2.3-3.6 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no different male and female names for these species of gannets.

What would you call a baby gannet?

Young gannets are known as fledglings.

What do they eat?

The diet of gannets includes fish, squid, and shrimp. These species of birds dive in the water to catch fish and other creatures for food and then bring it back to the gannet colony. They eat fish such as herring, capelin, smelt, pilchard, and mackerel.

Are they greedy?

Even though gannets have a reputation for being greedy, they are not at all greedy and don't steal food from their rivals.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they would generally not make a good pet as they are not used to being tamed. They are quite loud which makes it difficult to keep in a house.

Did you know...

Gannets are pronounced as 'ga-nuhts'. They follow fishing boats and fishers who go fishing as they lead them to a site where there are lots of fish.

Gannets are not seagulls because there is no such thing as a 'seagull', because gulls do not exclusively live near the sea.

Do gannets mate for life?

Yes, the northern gannet species of gannets mate for life and stay in their nesting areas if one of the mates dies, then the other looks for a new mate.

How fast can a gannet dive catch fish?

The gannet's diving speed is 62.1 mph (100 kph). Gannets dive at high speeds to catch fish. Impressive, indeed!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these yellow warbler facts and willow warbler facts for kids.

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

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Written by Divya Raghav

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

Divya Raghav picture

Divya RaghavBachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

With a diverse range of experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. Born and raised in Bangalore, she completed her Bachelor's in Commerce from Christ University and is now pursuing an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. Along with her professional pursuits, Divya has a passion for baking, dancing, and writing content. She is also an avid animal lover who dedicates her time to volunteering for animal welfare causes.

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