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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Sooty Shearwater



Awaiting image for this species



Sooty Shearwater

(Black Hag, Black Hagdon, Dark-Bodied Shearwater, Mutton Bird, Spectral Shearwater, Sooty, Sooties)

Puffinus griseus


  • Sooty Shearwater
  • Puffinus griseus
  • WI: Fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers) in late summer and autumn (rare in spring)
  • Breeds: Nov - Feb. Colonies in burrows on offshore islands. Just one white egg laid. Nest visted only at night to avoid predators. Southernmost Atlantic & Pacific oceans.
    Winters: (During our summertime) at sea in Northern Atlantic
  • Diet: Feeds mostly on small squid & fish at surface. (Good sense of smell). Dives to 68m
  • Seabird - smaller than herring gull (40 - 50cm length). Dark chocolate-brown/blackish body. Long wings (bright silver band underneath) Flight shearing (dips from side to side with stiff wings & few wing beats, wingtips almost touch water). Powerful, direct flight wings straight & stiff, frequent gliding.
  • Similar birds: Manx Shearwater (Also Cory's Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater but they are rare)


From late July to early November we see Sooty Shearwaters on their way back to the Southern Ocean to breed. (See from sea-watching places)

Every Sooty Shearwater seen in UK waters has likely travelled a circular 10,000 mile route.

Sooty Shearwaters breed in the southernmost Atlantic and Pacific oceans during the spring of the southern hemisphere (November - February). (When the chicks have matured (March - May) the adults fly up the east coast of North America to sub-arctic waters (June - July) then return to their breeding grounds via British waters July - November



Sooty Shearwater records in the Western Isles

Fairly common passage visitor (occurs in small numbers) in late summer and autumn (rare in spring)
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)

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

























(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)




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