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Pacific Fulmar

Pacific Fulmar

The definitive website on wildbirds & nature

Birds of America

By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.


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[Wedge-tailed Shearwater.]

[Puffinus pacificus.]


Three skins transmitted to me by Mr. TOWNSEND appear to belong to two species of the Fulmar genus, distinct from that of the Atlantic seas. The first of these species I have named as above. An adult individual resembles the common Procellaria glacialis in form, proportions, and colour, but differs in having the bill much smaller, more compressed, with the angle of the lower mandible narrower, and the tips of both very much inferior in strength. It is about the same size as the species just mentioned, and shews no remarkable difference in the wings or tail. Besides being more compressed, its bill presents a character, which, if universal, is perfectly distinctive; the upper outline of the united nasal tubes is concave in the Atlantic Fulmar, and its ridge flattened; whereas the outline of these tubes is is straight in the Pacific species, and its ridge distinctly carinate.

PACIFIC FULMAR, Procellaria pacifica, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. v. p. 331.

Adult, 18; wing, 12 3/4; tail, 4 3/4; bill, 1 3/4.

North-west coast of America. Abundant.


Bill shorter than the head, robust, straight, compressed, the tip curved. Upper mandible with the nostrils on the ridge, separated by a thin septum, covered by an elevated horny case, and opening directly forwards, the sides erect, convex, and separated by a groove from the nasal plate, as well as from the unguis, which is strong, decurved, and acute, the edges sharp, inflected, and slightly recurved from the base to the unguis. Lower mandible with the angle long, narrow, acute, the sides erect with a groove in their whole length, the edges sharp and direct, the very short dorsal line ascending and slightly concave, the edges decurved at the end.

Head rather large, ovate; neck rather short. Feet of moderate length, stout; tibia bare for a short space below; tarsus is a little compressed, covered all round with reticular scales, of which those on the anterior and posterior thin ridges are much smaller. Hind toe a slight prominence, with a conical rather obtuse claw; the fore toes long, slender, scutellate above, connected by striated entire webs, the fourth a little longer than the third, the second or inner not much shorter. Claws rather small, slightly arched, compressed, acute, that of the third toe with an inner thin edge. Plumage full, close, elastic, blended; on the back and wings the feathers rather distinct. Wings long; primary quills rather broad, tapering to a roundish point having a minute acumen, the first four-twelfths longer than the second, which exceeds the third by half an inch; secondary quills broad and rounded. Tail short, rounded, of fourteen rounded feathers, of which the lateral are one inch shorter than the middle; the lower tail-coverts very strong and of the same length as the tail-feathers.

Bill and feet yellow. The head, neck, and lower parts are pure white; the back and wings light greyish-blue, but most of the feathers, including those of the tail, becoming dark grey toward the end; the primary quills and their coverts are blackish-brown, tinged with grey.

Length to end of tail 18 inches; bill along the ridge 1 9/12; nasal case (6 1/2)/12; wing from flexure 12 9/12; tail 4 3/4; tarsus 1 11/12; hind toe 9/12, its claw 3/12; second toe 1 10/12, its claw (5 1/2)/12; third toe 2 2/12, its claw 7/12; fourth toe 2 1/4, its claw (4 1/2)/12.

The young bird is of a uniform dull light dusky-grey colour; a patch before the eye and the primary quills dusky. Its bill and feet are also yellow; the former as in the adult; the outline of its nasal case straight, its ridge carinate.

Length to end of tail 19 1/2 inches; bill along the ridge 1 10/12; nasal case (7 1/2)/12; wing from flexure 12 9/12; tail 4 9/12.

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