New England Seabirds
|New England Seabirds -
Sooty Shearwater photo by Jim Besada on
NH Audubon spring 2012 trip out of Rye Harbor, NH.
Where To See
You can see the Sooty
Shearwater from April to September on Stellwagen Bank.
Usually arrives before Greater Shearwater and leaves a bit earlier.
It is also south
of the Cape and north into Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Prefers
colder water. Not seen in the warm eddies south of Cape Cod.
Southern hemisphere off the tip of
South America at Staten, Wollaston, and Deceit Island near Cape Horn. Also off
Australia and New Zeland. Most disperse in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic
Most animals that live in the sea follow the same pattern:
dark on top, light underneath. This coloration is
protective because when a predator swimming under the animal looks
up, light under parts blend in with the light from above.
From above it is just the opposite, dark color blends with the
deep dark water and protects the
The Sooty Shearwater is one bird that does
not follow this rule. Except for the white wing linings,
the Sooty Shearwater is all dark on top and bottom.
Sits on the water in flocks. Attracted by
chum, but not usually a ship follower. Dives from surface and swims underwater
identify on the east coast because you do not need to
separate from Short-tailed and Wedge-tailed
When sitting on the water it is an
all dark shearwater. Photo by Scott Spangenberg.
||Slightly smaller than Greater Shearwater
on the left, the Sooty shows no
white when sitting on the water.
The underwing shows white wing linings which are variable in
size and shape, but usually continuous. Compare this bird
with the one at the top of the page.
||This underwing shot of
another bird shows a different pattern to the wing linings. Photo by
Glen Tepke. Bird appears to be molting notice loss of
right wing feathers.