Migratory Bird Program
Conserving the Nature of America
Focal Species

Audubon’s Shearwater (Puffinus lherminieri)

The Audubon’s Shearwater (Puffinus lherminieri) has been identified as a focal species in need of conservation due to population declines and documented threats to breeding birds in Caribbean and U.S. Pacific Islands populations. Although they are widespread and abundant in tropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, smaller populations of Audubon’s Shearwaters are particularly at risk. Shearwaters come ashore only to breed.

The Caribbean/Atlantic Ocean subspecies (P. l. lherminieri) of Audubon's Shearwater breeds in islands throughout the Caribbean, the Bahamas and formerly on Bermuda. In the U.S. Pacific Islands, the Pacific subspecies (P. l. dichrous) of Audubon's Shearwater breeds in American Samoa and the Line Islands. At sea, Caribbean subspecies birds range over Atlantic Ocean waters off the southeastern U.S. coast and all the way up to Canada. About 3,000-5,000 pairs may nest in the Caribbean, but precise estimates of distribution and population size are not available due to lack of systematic surveys and difficulty in locating nests at the breeding grounds.

Introduced predators, such as rats and cats, pose one of the greatest threats to shearwater populations on their nesting grounds. Other threats that may be contributing to population declines include habitat destruction and disturbance, human consumption of eggs and birds, overfishing of fish prey eaten by shearwaters, accidental capture of birds in fishing gear, oil contamination, and collisions with man-made structures at sea.


Balloffet, N., Landes, W. and N. Le Boeuf. 2006. Strategic Engagement in Seabird Conservation: An Opportunities Assessment and Action Guide for the Waterbird Conservation Council.  Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology Program, University of Maryland. 73pp.

National Audubon Society. 2007. The 2007 Audubon WatchList: Audubon’s Shearwater. Retrieved September 2010 from http://web1.audubon.org/science/species/watchlist/

Platenberg, R. J., F. E. Hayes, D. B. McNair, and J. J. Pierce. 2005. A Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy for the U.S. Virgin Islands. Division of Fish and Wildlife, St. Thomas. 251 pp.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2005. Regional Seabird Conservation Plan, Pacific Region. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Birds and Habitat Programs, Pacific Region, Portland, Oregon.



Audubon’s Shearwater

Audubon's Shearwater

Audubon’s Shearwater - Photo by Glen Tepke

Action Plan  in development

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Last updated: December 2, 2011