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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Balearic Shearwater


Awaiting image for this species



Balearic Shearwater

(Mediterranean Shearwater)

Puffinus mauretanicus


  • Balearic Shearwater (Mediterranean Shearwater)
  • Puffinus mauretanicus
  • UK: RED LIST Critically endangered. 2000 birds annually BTO
  • WI: Vagrant / Rare Visitor June - September. The best year on record had 6 records, there are only about 20 in total
  • Breeds: Burrows & coastal cliffs in Balearic Islands & Mediterranean in Jan & Feb. Burrows only visited at night-time avoiding large gull predation. Vulnerable to rat predation.
  • Winters: Most in Balearic sea / Mediterranean. Some reach the Atlantic Ocean in late summer (then range north to Great Britain & Ireland).
  • Habitat: Seabird (Pelagic), breeds in island burrows & cliffs
  • Diet: Mostly small fish, also squid & molluscs
  • Flight shearing (dips from side to side with stiff wings & few wing beats, wingtips almost touch water). Looks like flying cross - wings held right angles to body. Colour changes dusky brown to paler shade as the dark above & paler below alternately exposed, but not contrasting strongly like a Manx.
  • Similar birds: Sooty Shearwater, Manx Shearwater, (Also Cory's Shearwater & Great Shearwater but they are rare)


The Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus) was long regarded a subspecies of the Manx Shearwater. It is now recognised as a distinct species. It has less contrasting plumage, so it's colour change is from dark-brown to dirty white as it's upper and below parts are alternately exposed in it's flight across the sea.


Balearic Shearwater records in the Western Isles

Vagrant / Rare Visitor June - September.
The best year on record had 6 records, there are only about 20 in total
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)


On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Balearic Shearwater is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.





















(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)



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