A Sooty Shearwater soars again

Shearwater IMG_5833-L
Photos by Bill Steinkamp

Upon seeing photos of a recent Sooty Shearwater in care at our Los Angeles center, we found an interesting tidbit on the migratory prowess of this amazing seabird, which rivals the Arctic Tern in distance traveled. Via UC-Santa Cruz Currents:

Every summer, millions of Sooty Shearwaters arrive off the coast of California, their huge flocks astonishing visitors who may have trouble grasping that the dark swirling clouds over the water consist of seabirds.

Scientists have long known that Sooty Shearwaters breed in New Zealand and Chile and migrate to feeding grounds in the Northern Hemisphere. But the details of this remarkable transequatorial migration are only now emerging from a study using electronic tracking tags to follow individual birds.

The flights of Sooty Shearwaters documented in this new study represent the longest animal migration routes ever recorded using electronic tracking technology: around 65,000 kilometers (39,000 miles). Taking advantage of prevailing winds along different parts of the migration route, the birds trace giant figure eights over the Pacific Basin.

The shearwater you see above was grounded at a Santa Barbara park and brought to the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, which transferred the animal to us on June 29. Rehabilitation technician and volunteer Neil Uelman reports that the shearwater was found to have a minor wound on its left leg with swelling around it. The bird was started on antibiotics, which brought down the infection. After several days recovering in a pelagic pool, this shearwater was released Tuesday afternoon.

Shearwater IMG_5826-L


Mallard Duckling at SF Bay Center