Family Petrels, Shearwaters (Procellariidae)

Least Concern

Great Shearwater (Ardenna gravis)


French: Puffin majeur German: Großer Sturmtaucher Spanish: Pardela capirotada

Procellaria Gravis


, 1818,

Cape Farewell and Staten Hook to Newfoundland


Probably closely related to A. carneipes and A. creatopus. Monotypic.


Atlantic Ocean and SW Indian Ocean, breeding on Nightingale I and Inaccessible I (Tristan da Cunha), on Gough I, and on Kidney I (in Falklands).

Descriptive notes

43–51 cm; 670–995 g; wingspan 100–118 cm. Large drab and white, dark-capped shearwater, with blackish bill. Cap to gape-level and back to nape rather... read more


Vocalizes mainly on ground, rather than in flight, at colonies, where calling commences in mid... read more


Marine, frequenting cool offshore and pelagic waters. Breeds on sloping ground, mainly in areas of... read more

Food and feeding

Mostly fish (e.g. mackeral and capelin), squid (especially Illex illecebrosus off Newfoundland) and fish offal; also some... read more


Copulation in Oct, returning to colonies in second half of Sept, with probable pre-laying exodus of up to c. 1 month starting in mid to... read more


Transequatorial migrant. During breeding season concentrated in waters of S Atlantic (being... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Abundant, with enormous total population, perhaps numbering as many as 15,000,000 individuals; minimum 5,000,000 breeding pairs at... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C., Jutglar, F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Great Shearwater (Ardenna gravis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 January 2019).