Manx Shearwater

Puffinus puffinus


Shearwaters are members of a group of birds known as 'tubenoses' or 'petrels' which also includes giant Albatrosses, Fulmars and tiny Storm Petrels. Manx Shearwaters can be seen gliding low over the waves, their wings beating in shallow and rapid movements. During the spring, they nest in burrows on a small number of islands off the west coast of Britain, leaving in July to migrate to South America for the winter.

How to identify

A medium-sized black and white bird, the Manx Shearwater has long, stiff wings. About the size of a small gull, it is black above and white underneath. It can sometimes be seen in large numbers, particularly in the evening, near their nesting sites.

Where to find it

Nests on rocky islands around the coasts of Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the Isles of Scilly.


When to find it

  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July

How can people help

The survival of our seabirds is threatened by the pollution and degradation of our marine and coastal habitats. The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Manx Shearwater
Latin name
Puffinus puffinus
Gulls and seabirds
Length: 30-38cm Wingspan: 82cm Weight: 420g Average Lifespan: 15 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.