Northern FulmarFulmarus glacialis

adult, Pacific, dark morph
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult, Pacific, light morph
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult, Atlantic
John Brian Patrick Patteson/VIREO
adult, Pacific, dark morph
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult, Atlantic, light morph
Joe Fuhrman/VIREO
adult, Pacific, light morph
Martin Hale/VIREO
adult, Pacific, light morph
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adult, Pacific, light morph
George L. Armistead/VIREO
adult, Atlantic
John Brian Patrick Patteson/VIREO
Northern Fulmar

Description

18" (46 cm). A stocky gull-like seabird, seldom seen from shore. 2 color phases are common: pale gray on back and wings, white elsewhere (the phase most common in the East); and uniformly dark gray. Intermediates, as well as nearly all-white birds, also occur. Bill yellow. Easily distinguished from a gull by its flight: several fast wingbeats followed by a stiff-winged glide.

Voice

Chuckling and grunting notes when feeding; various guttural calls during breeding season.

Listen

calls at colony

Habitat

Open ocean; nests on cliffs and rocky islands, often in colonies of many thousands of birds.

Range

Breeds in Aleutians and on coasts and islands of Alaska and Canadian Arctic. Winters at sea, in Pacific Ocean south to California and in Atlantic south to North Carolina. Also in northern Eurasia.

Discussion

The Northern Fulmar feeds on fish, squid, shrimp, and the refuse cast overboard by fishing boats. The expansion of commercial fishing in this century caused a great increase in the population of this species, especially in the North Atlantic, but new mechanized methods of processing fish at sea have reduced the amount of refuse, and the numbers of these birds have begun to decline again.

Nesting

1 white egg placed on a bare rock or in a shallow depression or hollow lined with fresh vegetation.

Similar Species

adult

Sooty Shearwater

16-18" (41-46 cm). A large shearwater. In the Atlantic, the only one that appears uniformly dark sooty brown above and below, with silvery whitish wing linings. Bill and feet dark.

adult

Short-tailed Shearwater

13-14" (33-36 cm). A dark shearwater, with dark bill and feet.

breeding adult withnestling

Herring Gull

23-26" (58-66 cm). Adult white with light gray back and wings; wing tip black with white spots; bill yellow with red spot on lower mandible; feet pink or flesh colored. First-year birds brownish.

Vireo

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