Balearic-Shearwater

Balearic Shearwater

Did you know?

Balearic Shearwaters migrate to the North Atlantic after the breeding season and are relatively common off the south-east coast of England.

ID Pointers

  • Faster and frenetic flight, interrupted with short glides, compared to larger and more common Scopoli’s Shearwater
  • Pot-bellied, with dark vent and dirty flanks
  • Dark underwing and broad flank band under wing
  • Some birds show a dirty breast band
  • Ill-defined separation between dark back and paler flanks
  • Flat forehead slope
  • Some smaller birds have clean white underparts

The Balearic Shearwater is endemic to the Balearic Islands and it’s one of Europe’s most endangered birds. It breeds in caves and crevices on remote cliff sites and islets of Formentera, Ibiza, Mallorca and Cabrera. The breeding season is very long, eggs are laid in early March and fledglings leave the colony in the first week of July. The Balearic Shearwaters are coastal water feeders, that can be easily observed from any headland along the coast of Mallorca. The Balearic shearwater returns from its Atlantic migration in early September and can be observed in the waters of Mallorca up until late June.

In Mallorca, look for at…

If food is available, the shearwaters can be observed fishing off the coast of the Serra de Tramuntana, the SW coast of Mallorca, from Cap Salines to Artá, and in the big bays of Pollença, Alcudia and Palma. At sunset, rafting shearwaters gather off the breeding colonies, Cabrera, Dragonera and Malgrats, near the Bay of Santa Ponça.

Where else can I see it?

The main feeding areas in the Mediterranean are concentrated along the Catalan and Eastern Spanish coast. In Mallorca Birds can be observed flying along the coast to and from these feeding areas. Shearwaters flying to the Catalan coast gather off Cap Gros, Port of Sóller. Balearic Shearwaters leave the Mediterranean in June, juveniles in the first week of July, crossing the strait of Gibraltar. During the summer, July and August, most of the birds are in the Atlantic, feeding in hotspots off the Portugal, NW Spain, Britanny, France and the SE England.

Techincal description

Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus)

Length: 13-14 ins (34-36 cm)
Wingspan: 33-37 ins (83-93 cm)
Food: Small pelagic fish, taken by pursuit-diving and surface-seizing
Breeding: One egg in a crevice or cave, on small coastal islands and sea cliffs

Places the Balearic Shearwater can be found at:

Different types of Birds in Mallorca