Definitions for shearwaterˈʃɪərˌwɔ tər, -ˌwɒt ər
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long-winged oceanic bird that in flight skims close to the waves
Any of various long-winged pelagic seabirds in the genera Calonectris or Puffinus, of the family Procellariidae, that breed on islands and coastal cliffs.
any one of numerous species of long-winged oceanic birds of the genus Puffinus and related genera. They are allied to the petrels, but are larger. The Manx shearwater (P. Anglorum), the dusky shearwater (P. obscurus), and the greater shearwater (P. major), are well-known species of the North Atlantic. See Hagdon
Origin: [Shear + water; cf. G. wassersherer; -- so called from its running lightly along the surface of the water.]
Shearwaters are medium-sized long-winged seabirds. There are more than 30 species of shearwaters, a few larger ones in the genus Calonectris and many smaller species in the genus Puffinus. The Procellaria petrels and Bulweria were believed to belong to this group, but are only distantly related based on more recent studies, while the Pseudobulweria and Lugensa "petrels" are more closely related. The genus Puffinus can be divided into a group of small species close to Calonectris and a few larger ones more distantly related to both. One thing that can be agreed upon about taxonomy of Procellariidae is that it is in a state of flux. These birds are most common in temperate and cold waters. They are pelagic outside the breeding season. These tubenose birds fly with stiff wings and use a “shearing” flight technique to move across wave fronts with the minimum of active flight. Some small species, like Manx Shearwater are cruciform in flight, with their long wings held directly out from their bodies. Many are long-distance migrants, perhaps most spectacularly Sooty Shearwaters, which cover distances in excess of 14,000 km from their breeding colony on the Falkland Islands north to 65°-70°N in the North Atlantic Ocean off north Norway. Short-tailed Shearwaters perform an even longer "figure of 8" loop migration in the Pacific Ocean from Tasmania to as far north as the Arctic Ocean off northwest Alaska.
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