From Conservapediabirds. Shearwaters are members of the Procellariidae family, known as the "tube-noses." All the birds in this family have a prominent tube on the top of their bill that excretes extra salt from the bird’s body. Shearwaters look similar to northern fulmars, but are much darker and have thinner, more pointed wings and a generally slimmer appearance. The name "shearwater" is a poetic description of their flight over water- they soar with minimum effort across the ocean surface- the strongest winds and angriest waves seem to only improve their flying.
Shearwaters breed only in the southern hemisphere. They fly north in huge numbers, often in seemingly endless streams-- Russian observers living on the Bering Sea coast speak of seeing unbroken streams of shearwaters flying past for days at a time. Shearwaters often flock together with fulmars in island passes and other areas where strong currents cause ocean upwelling and turbulence. The upwelling brings small crustaceans and other plankton to the sea surface where shearwaters can scoop them up for a meal. But unlike fulmars, shearwaters can make shallow dives up to 10 meters below the surface, propelling themselves with wings and feet in pursuit of small forage fish. Shearwaters are also a common scavenger species, gathering in frantic swarms around fishing vessel to gorge on their fish discards.
Shearwaters have remarkable homing powers that defy materialistic explanation. For example, a Manx shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) was removed from its nest in Britain and flown in a closed drum to North America and released. It returned from Massachusetts to its nest in Britain, about 3,050 miles way and across the Atlantic Ocean, in only 12½ days.
- ↑ http://www.absc.usgs.gov/research/seabird_foragefish/seabirds/flash_cards/short_tailed_shearwater.html
- ↑ Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 14, p. 668, 1991 edition.