Family Petrels, Shearwaters (Procellariidae)

Critically Endangered

Townsend's Shearwater (Puffinus auricularis)


French: Puffin de Townsend German: Townsendsturmtaucher Spanish: Pardela de Townsend

Puffinus auricularis

C. H. Townsend

, 1890,

Clarión Island, Revillagigedo Group


Sometimes treated as a race of P. puffinus. Usually considered conspecific with P. newelli (which see), and DNA data show little genetic differentiation#R. Monotypic.


Pacific coast from S Baja California to El Salvador, breeding in Revillagigedo Is on Socorro and, at least formerly, on Clarión and San Benedicto, in same group (off W Mexico).

Descriptive notes

32–38 cm; 290–358 g, wingspan 76–83 cm. Rather small, contrastingly blackish and white, with variable amount of blackish on undertail-coverts. Cap reaches... read more


Gives repeated series of 2–5 (usually three) braying notes followed by 1–2 additional throaty notes... read more


Marine, occurring in warm subtropical offshore and pelagic waters. Breeds on islands, occupying... read more

Food and feeding

Extremely little known; presumably mostly small fish and squid. Prey is caught by pursuit-plunging or surface-seizing; dietary analysis... read more


Starts to arrive at colonies in mid Nov, with laying probably lasting 6–8 weeks from late Jan to mid Mar, and young fledging between... read more


Little known; thought to disperse to adjacent seas; recorded S to waters just N of Galápagos... read more

Status and conservation

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. Population most recently estimated by at just 250–999 mature individuals, despite estimate of 46,000 individuals, including 10,600 breeding birds... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C., Jutglar, F. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Townsend's Shearwater (Puffinus auricularis). 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 26 February 2020).