manx shearwater



manx shearwater defined in 1930 year

manx shearwater - Manx Shearwater;
manx shearwater - Bill blackish; legs and feet yellowish flesh-colour; crown, nape, and upper parts sooty black; under parts white; sides o' neck mottled with greyish brown. Length, fifteen inches.

The Manx shearwater is the most abundant and best known of the four petrels that frequent the British seas. It has several breeding-stations in the Channel and along the west coast of Great Britain, and a few on islands off the coast of Ireland; but its principal colonies are on St. Kilda, the sea-bird's paradise. Like the stormy petrel, the shearwater is nocturnal in its habits during the summer, feeding by night, and remaining concealed in its burrows during the day. In winter it seeks its food at all hours. It has the same habits as the stormy petrel of dropping its feet and paddling in the water, while sustained by its motionless, outspread wings. Its name of shearwater is derived from its custom of gliding along very close to the surface. Seebohm likens it to ' a gigantic swift ' in appearance as it careers to and fro over the waves when the gale is at its height. Except when breeding its whole time is spent on the open sea: it is as truly at home on the stormy Atlantic, a thousand miles from the nearest land, as is the blackbird in its favourite shrubbery or the sedentary owl in its hollow beech-tree. But it remains longer at its breeding-grounds than the other species. At St. Kilda it begins to arrive as early as February, and remains until the end of the summer. It forms a burrow, often of great depth, in the peaty soil, and lays a single egg, pure white, and smooth in texture. According to Dixon, the birds are very garrulous at night, uttering their peculiar notes both when flying and in their nesting-holes; the syllables ' Kitty-coo-roo ' are given by this author in imitation of the notes.

The sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) and the greater shearwater (P. major) are occasionally met with in autumn and winter on the British coasts. A third species, the dusky shearwater (P. obscurus), has a place in the list of British birds, two specimens having been obtained in the United Kingdom.

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