Balearic Shearwater

Vale Pijlstormvogel, Balearensturmtaucher, Pardela-de-mediterrâno, Pardela Balear

Spotted near Sines in the Alentejo region of Portugal.                                                         Balearic Shearwater sound

The Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus) is a medium-sized shearwater in the seabird family Procellariidae. It was long regarded a subspecies of the Manx Shearwater.

This species breeds on islands and coastal cliffs in the Balearic islands. Most winter in that sea, but some enter the Atlantic in late summer, reaching north to Great Britain and Ireland.

This species nests in burrows which are visited only at night to avoid predation by large gulls.

This bird is approximately 33 cm long, with an 85–90 cm wingspan. It has the typically “shearing” flight of the genus, dipping from side to side on stiff wings with few wingbeats, the wingtips almost touching the water. This bird looks like a flying cross, with its wing held at right angles to the body, and it changes from dark brown to dirty white as the dark upperparts and paler undersides are alternately exposed as it travels low over the sea.

Apart from the less contrasted plumage, this species is very similar to the Atlantic Manx Shearwater and the Yelkouan Shearwater found elsewhere in the Mediterranean. There exists at least one mixed breeding colony of Balearic and Yelkouan Shearwaters, on Minorca, and the species’ winter ranges overlap in the Central Mediterranean.

It is under severe threat from the development of holiday resorts near its breeding sites, and also from animals such as cats and rats. The discovery of Yelkouan Shearwaters in the Minorcan colony suggests that hybridization may also pose a problem. The Balearic Shearwater is considered critically endangered with extinction by the IUCN. Recent models estimate a mean decrease of 7.4% per year and a mean extinction time of 40.4 years. This equates to an ongoing decline of more than 80% over the next three generations (54 years).

This is a gregarious species, which can been seen in large numbers from boats or headlands, especially on in autumn.

It is silent at sea, but at night the breeding colonies are alive with raucous cackling calls, higher pitched than the Manx Shearwater’s.

The Balearic Shearwater feeds on fish and molluscs. It does not follow boats.

 Other synonyms:

Afrikaans: Baleariese Pylstormvoël
Catalan: Baldriga balear, Virot petit
Catalan (Balears): Virot petit
Welsh: Aderyn-Drycin Mor y Canoldir, Aderyn-drycin y Baleares
Danish: Balearskråpe
German: Balearen Schwarzschnabel-Sturmtaucher, Balearensturmtaucher, Kanarischer-Sturmtaucher, Mauretanischer Sturmtaucher, Schwarzschnabelsturmtaucher-mauretanicus
English: Balearic Mediterranean Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Canary Islands Shearwater, Mediterranean shearwater
Spanish: Pardela Balear, Pardela pichoneta balear
Estonian: baleaari tormilind
Basque: Baldriga balear, Gabai
Finnish: Baleaarienliitäjä
French: Puffin des Baléares
Irish: Cánóg Bhailéarach
Galician: Baldriga balear, Furabuchos balear
Hungarian: baleári vészmadár
Icelandic: Brúnskorfa
Italian: Berta balearica, Berta delle Baleari, Berta minore delle Baleari
Japanese: yoayoppamizunagidori
Latin: Puffinus mauretanicus, Puffinus puffinus mauretanicus, Puffinus yelkouan mauretanicus
Dutch: Vale Pijlstormvogel, Westmediterrane vale pijlstormvogel
Norwegian: Balearlire
Polish: burzyk balearski
Portuguese: Fura-bucho, Pardela do Mediterrâneo, Pardela-sombria
Slovak: víchrovník baleársky
Slovenian: balearski viharnik
Swedish: Balearisk lira, Balearlira

Birders Birdwatching Holiday in the Alentejo region of Portugal, Individual guided tours, trips, excursions and birding holiday.

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