This bird is 30-38 cm long, with a 76-89 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 black to white as the black upperparts and white undersides are alternately exposed as it travels low over the sea.

Habitat and Distribution

This species breeds in the North Atlantic, with major colonies on islands and coastal cliffs around Great Britain and Ireland. Manx Shearwaters migrate over 10,000 km to South America in winter, using waters off southern Brazil and Argentina. Their migration appears to be quite complex, having many stopovers and foraging zones throughout the Atlantic Ocean.


They feed on small fish (particularly herring, sprat and sardines), crustaceans, cephalopods and surface offal. The bird forages and it makes use of feeding marine mammals and schools of predatory fish.


Manx Shearwaters have nested along the Atlantic coast of northeastern North America since the 1970s. They nest in burrows, laying one white egg which they visit only at night to avoid predation by large gulls.