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Pink-footed Shearwater

Ardenna creatopus

Length: 19 inches Wingspan: 44 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: White underside, brownish upperparts and head, pink bill with dark tip, pink feet

Pink-footed Shearwater - Ardenna creatopusThe Pink-footed Shearwater the largest of the shearwaters found off the Pacific Coast of North America.  They are long-distance migrants, with birds nesting in the Southern Hemisphere and migrating to the Northern Hemisphere after the breeding season.  They have an extremely limited breeding range, only being found as nesting birds on three islands off the coast of Chile.  However, they are regularly found off the west coast of North America during the Northern Hemisphere summer, and may be found as far north as off the coast of Alaska.

Habitat: Nests on a handful of islands off the coast of Chile, islands with soil suitable for digging nesting burrows.  Outside of the breeding season, they are usually found offshore, not usually visible from land, but over the continental shelf.

Diet: Feeds mostly on fish, squid, and small crustaceans.

Behavior: Forages by plunge diving from the air or diving while swimming on the ocean's surface, swimming underwater in pursuit of prey.

Nesting: The nest of a Pink-footed Shearwater is a burrow, sometimes with a few pebbles or sticks as a lining in the nesting chamber.  The female lays a single egg, and both parents help to incubate it.  Upon hatching, both parents help raise the young by feeding it regurgitated fish and other prey.

Song: Usually silent, but will give a descending whinnying call when feeding in groups.

Migration: Pink-footed Shearwaters only nest in a handful of locations off the coast of Chile.  Outside of the breeding season, they disperse widely in the Pacific, and can be found regularly off the west coast of North America during the northern Hemisphere summer.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Pink-footed Shearwater sightings

Similar Species: In range, most likely to be confused with the Buller's Shearwater.  These 2 species are the only large shearwaters off the Pacific Coast that have white underparts and darker upperparts.  As noted in the Buller's Shearwater account, one distinguishing characteristic between the two species is the "neatness" of the demarcation between light and dark parts of the body, with the Pink-footed Shearwater having a less clean dividing line.

Conservation Status: Pink-footed Shearwaters only nest in three locations in the world. Given the extremely small breeding range and risk from disturbance events, the IUCN has listed the Pink-footed Shearwater as a "Vulnerable" species.

Further Information: 1) BirdLife International - Pink-footed Shearwater

2) Audubon Guide - Pink-footed Shearwater

3) -Pink-footed Shearwater

Photo Information: Photo taken by Logan Kahle - August 11th, 2012 - Off the coast of San Mateo County, California - Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Pink-footed Shearwater - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Pink-footed Shearwater Photos (coming soon!!)