Pink-footed shearwater

Puffinus creatopus Coues, 1864

New Zealand status: Native

Conservation status: Vagrant

Other names: pinkfooted shearwater, pink footed shearwater

Geographical variation:   Nil

Pink-footed shearwater. Adult on water. Off Kaikoura, December 2001. Image © Alan Tennyson by Alan Tennyson

Pink-footed shearwater. Adult on water. Off Kaikoura, December 2001. Image © Alan Tennyson by Alan Tennyson

The pink-footed shearwater is a pale-bellied version of the locally-breeding flesh-footed shearwater. It has a parallel distribution in the eastern Pacific, breeding on islands off the coast of Chile and migrating to temperate waters off North America rather than off Japan. Occasionally they stray to the west and several have been seen off the eastern coast of the South Island. The behaviour of the two species is similar.

Identification

The pink-footed shearwater is a large brown-and-white shearwater. The upperparts are greyish-brown, darker on the head and neck, and the flight feathers and tail. Underneath it is white variably marked with smudgy grey especially on the throat, sides, lower belly and under the wings. The bill is pink with a black tip and the feet are pink.

Similar species: Buller’s shearwaters are slimmer with a much longer tail and an obviously patterned grey and black back, and are much whiter underneath. Much less likely in New Zealand are: Cory’s shearwater (1 record from New Zealand) is cleaner white underneath and has a larger yellow rather than pink bill; and pale morph wedge-tailed shearwater (3 records from New Zealand) is slimmer with a long, wedge-shaped tail and a dark bill.

Distribution and habitat

A summer breeder in the eastern Pacific on the Juan Fernandez Islands and Mocha Island off Chile, migrating to the North American coast from Mexico to British Columbia.

New Zealand records

The first 2-4 birds off the Canterbury Bight in June 1979 were initially misidentified as North Atlantic (Cory's) shearwaters. Five subsequent sightings have been accepted, all of single birds off Kaikoura, and all between December and February: January 1994, December 1998, February 1999, December 2001, January 2003. Several other sightings have yet to be submitted to, or assessed by, the Ornithological Society’s Records Appraisal Committee.

Threats and conservation        

Although pink-footed shearwater are found in fairly large numbers (20,000 pairs), colonies are found on just three islands. These colonies suffer soil erosion and burrow collapse due to introduced rabbits, goats and cattle. On the various colonies there is predation by rats, cats, dogs and coatis, and a still substantial but illegal harvest of chicks on Isla Mocha. At sea they readily scavenge and may be incidentally killed on long lines and by entanglement in nets and other gear.

Behaviour and ecology

Pink-footed shearwaters cover large distances searching for food and have a slower wingbeat and soar more than most other shearwaters. They may feed alone or in mixed flocks with other species.

Food

Pink-footed shearwaters feed mainly over the continental shelf but also deeper water. They mainly take small fish and squid with some crustaceans, which are seized from the surface or pursued underwater and they may follow boats to take fisheries waste.

Websites

http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=3931

http://www.oikonos.org/projects/fardela.htm

http://www.arkive.org/pink-footed-shearwater/puffinus-creatopus/

References

Marchant, S.; Higgins, P.J. (eds) 1990. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds. Vol.1, ratites to ducks. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Onley, D.; Scofield, P.2007. Albatrosses, petrels, and shearwaters of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

Tunnicliffe, G. A. 1982. First sightings of the North Atlantic (Cory's) shearwater Calonectris diomedea (Scopoli, 1769) in Australasian seas. Notornis 29: 85-91.

Tunnicliffe, G. A. 1984. Correction: North Atlantic shearwater to pink-footed shearwater. Notornis 31: 130.

Recommended citation

Southey, I. 2013. Pink-footed shearwater. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

Pink-footed shearwater

Breeding season
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Egg laying dates
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