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Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris


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Short-tailed Shearwater, adult on water
credit:  Mike Baird/CCSA

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Family: Procellariidae, Shearwaters and Petrels view all from this family

Description ALL BIRDS Can appear all-dark at a distance, but in good light plumage is mainly sooty brown. Pale underwing coverts create a striking, narrow bar in some individuals. Some birds have a pale throat. Bill is dark and relatively short and an even thickness (cf. Sooty).

Dimensions Length: 13-14" (33-36 cm)

Habitat Nests in Southern Hemisphere and a nonbreeding visitor to north Pacific, mainly May-Sep. Occurs alongside Sooty, but usually the scarcer of the two.

Observation Tips Easy to see on pelagic trips.

Range Northwest, Western Canada, Alaska, California

Voice Silent at sea.

Discussion Medium-sized shearwater that glides on stiffly held wings, flapping only occasionally in short bursts. Very similar to Sooty and poor views may not allow specific identification. Good views do, however, permit separation by studying key features. Has similarly dark sooty brown plumage, but wings are relatively shorter and pale underwing coverts are palest and broadest toward the body (broadest toward wingtip in Sooty). Note also Short-tailed's shorter, smaller bill, more rounded head, and generally shorter neck, creating an impression overall of a more compact, less cigar-shaped body.