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Natural history

HEINROTH’S SHEARWATER} Puffinus heinrothi
FAMILY: Procellariidae

DESCRIPTION: The Heinroth’s shearwater averages 27 centimeters in length, with a notable long slender bill and sooty-brown color accented by a magnificent silvery streak under its wing. Some birds have white bellies.

HABITAT: This bird’s Bismarck Archipelago habitat includes mostly volcanic islands with rugged terrain. The only observations of this species ashore, and a comparison with closely related species, suggest that it breeds in high mountains.

RANGE: The species is known from Bismarck Archipelago and the seas around Bougainville Island to the east of Papua New Guinea, as well as the island of Kolombangara and Rendova in the Solomon Islands.

MIGRATION: The bird migrates over the winter months, but its destination is unknown.

BREEDING: The shearwater’s nesting grounds have never been located, but observations of the species suggest that it breeds on islands in the Bismark seas. It is believed that the species is a burrow nester that breeds in high mountain locations. Beyond this, little else is known about the shearwater’s breeding habits.

LIFE CYCLE: Due to the bird’s rarity, little information is known about its life cycle.

FEEDING: The feeding habits of the bird are unknown.

THREATS: The primary threat to this species is thought to be introduced rats, cats, and dogs. In addition, deforestation in Kolombangara and Rendova Islands fragments the species’ potential breeding habitat.

POPULATION TREND: The population of this seabird is estimated at between 250 and 999 individuals. Its population trend is not known for certain, but its absence from locations of historic sightings suggests that the species is in decline.

Heinroth's shearwater photo © Brian R. Field