New England Seabirds
What is a Seabird?
Penguins are seabirds who have given up the ability to fly in favor of swimming and diving to greath depths. With the exception of the Galapagos Penguin they live and breed in the southern hemisphere although it is not true that they only live where it is very cold. Penguins do not associate with Polar Bears which are confined to the far north except in beer commercials.
Alcids are seabirds who both fly and swim with their wings. Alcids are now confined to the northern hemisphere. The extinct Great Auk was flightless.
Tubenoses or Petrels - Order Procellariformes
This group is distinguished by having their nostils enclosed in tubes. Four families of seabirds make up the order:
The Pelecaniformes include: Gannets, Pelicans, Boobies, tropicbirds, cormorant, and frigatebirds. Some of these birds are of great interest to pelagic birders while others are more commonly viewed and studied from land.
Skuas and Jaegers
Closely related to the gulls, the skuas and jaegers are colonial breeders and are fiercely territorial. The northern hemisphere Jaegers breed on the arctic tundra, lay two eggs on the ground.
Gulls and Terns
Gulls and terns are also considered seabirds although many gulls have been lured inland and some live out their lives on large bodies of fresh water like the Great Lakes.
Some of the ducks commonly called seaducks must also be mentioned and some authors include loons and grebes. Another term waterbirds is sometimes used to include the ducks, loons and grebes which are included in seawatch programs.
Page author: Emmalee Tarry