Species Spotlight – Cory’s Shearwater

Seen only once previously at the Seabird Station, the Cory’s shearwater has made a surprise resurgence this year, at five intakes. The name “Shearwater” comes from the birds flight style of shearing across the fronts of waves with their wings held stiff. These birds are pelagic, meaning that they spend a significant portion of their lives on the open ocean, rarely venturing to land except to breed. Shearwaters are monogamous, and return to the same breeding colonies and partners every year. They nest in burrows on predator-free islands and cliffs, each pair producing a single white egg, which will then be incubated and raised by both parents. The chick is covered in grey-brown down, and both the chick and the adults are able to defend the nest by regurgitating a noxious stomach oil onto intruders. It is silent at sea, but at night the breeding colonies are alive with raucous cackling calls. The Cory’s shearwater feeds on fish, mollusks and offal, and can dive up to fifty feet deep in search of prey! You can often find them scavenging alongside fishing boats, or following whales, which drive schools of small fish to the surface.