Albatrosses, Shearwaters, Petrals, Fulmars

Albatrosses, Shearwaters, Fulmars, and Petrels are all pelagic birds that spend most of their lives offshore, crossing the seas.  They are known as tube noses because their nostrils set in tubes on the top of their bills. They stay offshore and only come to land when breeding where they nest in colonies.  They all have hooked bills and eat squid, fish, and other marine animals which are found close to the surface of the water.

Albatrosses are located in the family Diomedeidae and are found mostly in the southern oceans. These birds have very long, narrow wings and large beaks. They are able to “lock” their wings in position in order to glide over the water.

Fulmars, Shearwaters, and large Petrels spend most of their time in the waters around North America.  They belong to the Procellaridae family.

Fulmars look like gulls but they fly close to the water like Shearwaters, with deep wing beats and glides.  They are scavengers and often follow ships for scraps.

Shearwaters have longer and narrower wings than Fulmars. They are nocturnal on their breeding grounds. They are brown or black in color with areas of white plumage. They are smaller than Albatrosses and have thinner beaks.

Storm-Petrels are small birds found in the Hydrobatidae family. They are not much larger than sparrows and have short bills, long legs, and webbed feet.  They are found hopping and pattering over the waves.  They are usually found singly.

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