Family Petrels, Shearwaters (Procellariidae)

Least Concern

Little Shearwater (Puffinus assimilis)


French: Petit Puffin German: Zwergsturmtaucher Spanish: Pardela semejante

Puffinus assimilis


, 1838,

New South Wales = Norfolk Island


Previously considered to include P. elegans, along with races baroli and boydi of P. lherminieri and P. myrtae. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. a. tunneyi Mathews, 1912 – S Australian seas, breeding on islands off SW Australia.
  • P. a. assimilis Gould, 1838 – Tasman Sea, breeding on Lord Howe I and Norfolk I.
  • P. a. kermadecensis Murphy, 1927 – Kermadec Is and neighbouring seas.
  • P. a. haurakiensis C. A. Fleming & Serventy, 1943 – New Zealand seas S to Cook Strait, breeding on islands off NE North I (New Zealand).
  • Descriptive notes

    25–30 cm; 139–275 g; wingspan 58–67 cm. Smallest shearwater, rather short-billed, with short broad wings and strongly bicoloured appearance. Nominate race... read more


    Probably generally silent at sea. Gives varies multisyllabic screaming, crowing and laughing calls... read more


    Marine, occurring over warm, tropical and subtropical waters; often pelagic, but more frequent over... read more

    Food and feeding

    Poorly known. Squid, small fish and small crustaceans, including krill. Feeds mainly by pursuit-diving, pursuit-plunging and surface-diving... read more


    Mostly during local summer, e.g. returns to colonies in Western Australia (tunneyi) in early Jan, to Lord Howe and Phillip I (... read more


    Most populations considered fairly sedentary (making claims as far N as Gulf of Alaska appear... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). However, the species is considered Vulnerable in Australia (races assimilis and tunneyi). Widespread and locally... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C., Jutglar, F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Little Shearwater (Puffinus assimilis). 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 19 February 2020).