Manx Shearwater

©Chris Gomersall/2020VISION

Manx shearwater

Scientific name: Puffinus puffinus
The manx shearwater spends its summer in the UK, nesting in burrows. You can see large groups of manx shearwaters in the evenings as they form offshore 'rafts', waiting for the cover of darkness to return to their nests.

Species information


Length: 30-38cm
Wingspan: 82cm
Weight: 420g
Average lifespan: 15 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).

When to see

February to July


Manx shearwaters are members of a group of birds known as 'tubenoses', or 'petrels', which includes both giant albatrosses 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 the UK; they leave 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.


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

Did you know?

A manx shearwater that nested on Bardsey Island in Wales in 2008 was more than 50 years old and estimated to have flown about 5 million miles in its lifetime.

How people can help

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