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3

Wedge-tailed Shearwater

(Ardenna pacifica)
Alternate name(s): "Wedge-tailed Muttonbird*"
Size: 38-45 cm; wing span 1.0 m
Weight: 300-500 g

Similar
species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Wedge-tailed Shearwater at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Dark morphology

Note that, given the number of observations presented here and the number of photos shown of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters along the eastern seaboard of Australia, dark morphology birds must by far outnumber those with light morphology (none of which have been found yet).

ADULT

Sex unknown

Frontal view of a Wedge-tailed Shearwater looking sideways (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Muttonbird Island NR, Coffs Harbour, NSW, December 2023]

Frontal view from above onto a roosting dark morphology Wedge-tailed Shearwater
(photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lady Elliot Island, QLD, January 2006]

Near-frontal view of a Wedge-tailed Shearwater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Muttonbird Island NR, Coffs Harbour, NSW, December 2023]

Near-frontal view of a Wedge-tailed Shearwater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Muttonbird Island NR, Coffs Harbour, NSW, December 2023]

Near-frontal view of a roosting Wedge-tailed Shearwater looking sideways (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lady Elliot Island, QLD, January 2006]

Near-lateral view of a Wedge-tailed Shearwater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Muttonbird Island NR, Coffs Harbour, NSW, December 2023]

Lateral view of a Wedge-tailed Shearwater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Muttonbird Island NR, Coffs Harbour, NSW, December 2023]

Lateral view of a Wedge-tailed Shearwater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Muttonbird Island NR, Coffs Harbour, NSW, December 2023]

Near-dorsal view of a Wedge-tailed Shearwater (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Muttonbird Island NR, Coffs Harbour, NSW, December 2023]

Group of roosting Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lady Elliot Island, QLD, January 2006]

Wedge-tailed Shearwater, back, together with a Hutton's Shearwater, front (photo courtesy of M. Roderick)
[Off Swansea, NSW, December 2017]

View from above onto the upperparts of a Wedge-tailed Shearwater in flight (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[April 2019]

View from above onto the upperparts of a Wedge-tailed Shearwater in flight, now with the wings angled back
(photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[April 2019]

Distant lateral view of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters in flight (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Mistral Point, Maroubra, NSW, February 2013]

Breeding information

Wedge-tailed Shearwaters nest in tunnels facing the sea side, both in south-western and south-eastern Australia. Breeding colonies are, e.g., established on Muttonbird Island NR at Coffs Harbour, NSW, and Norfolk Island.

Breeding season: Oct - May Eggs: 1 Incubation period: ~50 days Fledging age: 103 - 115 days

Nest building: Male & female Incubation: Male & female Dependent care: Male & female

Nest

"bungobittah", "lar", "malunna", "jindi" [bundjalung] = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Tunnel Material: Grass, feather lining Height above ground: N/A

Tunnels are usually dug into sandy soil and are up to 2 m deep. Wedge-tailed Shearwaters can also nest under overhanging rocks or under roots, tussocks or logs.

Frontal view of a Wedge-tailed Shearwater at the entrance of its nest tunnel (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Muttonbird Island NR, Coffs Harbour, NSW, December 2023]

Dorsal view of a Wedge-tailed Shearwater about to enter its nest tunnel (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Muttonbird Island NR, Coffs Harbour, NSW, December 2023]

Entrance of the tunnel to a Wedge-tailed Shearwater nest with signs of recent excavation work
(photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Muttonbird Island NR, Coffs Harbour, NSW, January 2021]

Entrance of the tunnel to a Wedge-tailed Shearwater nest with signs of recent excavation work
(photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Muttonbird Island NR, Coffs Harbour, NSW, January 2021]

Entrance of the tunnel to a (disused?) Wedge-tailed Shearwater nest (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Muttonbird Island NR, Coffs Harbour, NSW, January 2021]

Hill side with sandy soil into which a colony of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters have dug their nest tunnels
(photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Muttonbird Island NR, Coffs Harbour, NSW, January 2021]

Hill side with sandy soil into which a colony of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters have dug their nest tunnels
(photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Norfolk Island, January 2008]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "mirk", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena", "pum-pum" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 67 x 43 mm Colour: White Shape: Long elliptical

View into a Wedge-tailed Shearwater nest tunnels, possibly with a piece of broken egg shell visible
(photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Muttonbird Island NR, Coffs Harbour, NSW, December 2023]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

wtshear_me_20231227.m4a (E NSW) Pair "singing" © ME
wtshear_me_20231227_2.m4a (E NSW) Begging calls chick © ME

More Wedge-tailed Shearwater sound recordings are available at xeno-canto.org .

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.