Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Zeiss - Always on the lookout for something special – Shop now

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Short-tailed and Sooty Shearwater

Thread Tools Rate Thread
Old Sunday 31st July 2011, 22:17   #1
Registered User

Join Date: May 2004
Location: MA, USA
Posts: 4
Short-tailed and Sooty Shearwater

I've posted a discussion of the ID of these two species at my website here
concluding that bill size and head shape together is the only reliable distinguishing feature, and that just barely works.
So I have a few taxonomy-related questions for this list. I don't have access to the Handbook of Australia/New Zealand/Antarctic birds, and I'm finding very little info in the references I do have. Apparently small numbers of Sooties nest in New South Wales and Tasmania where Short-tailed is common. Are they in mixed colonies? Are there any known or suspected records of interbreeding? Is there some big difference in voice or DNA? They have different breeding ranges and migration patterns, and they do sort out into two discrete groups on bill size, but visually I don't think they are any more distinctive than Cory's and Scopoli's.
sibleyart is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Sunday 31st July 2011, 22:27   #2
Richard Klim
Richard Klim's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Somerset, UK
Posts: 12,792
Martin Garner has also recently highlighted this ID scenario:

Last edited by Richard Klim : Sunday 31st July 2011 at 22:31.
Richard Klim is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 1st August 2011, 05:12   #3
Murray Lord
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 270

You are correct about the two species breeding in the same locations. To take one example, I believe Tasman Island off the SE corner of Tasmania has 6000 pairs of Short tailed and 1000 pairs of Sooties. To give an idea of relative abundance off SE Australia, the atlas of seabirds for that area says that it had 671 records of Sooties in its database ... and over 1.2 million of Short tailed.

I am not aware of records of interbreeding. I will ask around.

HANZAB doesn't say much on their taxonomy. In the call section it says for Sooty Shearwater "calls deeper, slower and less hysterical than Short tailed Shearwater". I note that the paper on seabird taxonomy by Penhallurick and Wink suggests Short tailed and Sooty diverged from each other before Sooty diverged from Great, Flesh-footed and Pink footed.

There's also a good table on page 199 of Albatrosses, Petrels and Shearwaters of the World by Onley and Scofield summarising differences between the two species.

I'll send a link to your blog post to a few Australian seabirders and see if they have any input to add.

Last edited by Murray Lord : Monday 1st August 2011 at 05:19. Reason: additional content
Murray Lord is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 1st August 2011, 05:56   #4
Registered User
MJB's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Holt
Posts: 4,707
Have you seen Raymond et al 2010 and Shaffer et al 2011 (attached)?
Attached Files
File Type: pdf 2011 Shaffer et al shearwaters Pacific.pdf (235.4 KB, 437 views)
File Type: pdf 2010 Raymond et al Shearwater, prey & winds.pdf (1,016.0 KB, 75 views)
The fuzziness of all supposedly absolute taxonomic distinctions - Stephen Jay Gould (1977) "Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History".
Species and subspecies are but a convenient fiction - Kees van Deemter (2010), "In praise of vagueness". Biology is messy
MJB is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 3rd August 2011, 10:50   #5
Murray Lord
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 270
I have had a look at one other paper on shearwater taxonomy: J. Austin,
Molecular phylogenetics of Puffinus shearwaters: preliminary evidence from mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequences Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 1996; 6(1):77-88. It tells the same story as Penhallurick and Wink - while Sooty and Short tailed are closely related, they diverged from each other somewhat earlier than some other closely related species.

Note that as Penhallurick and Wink was based on samples deposited in Genbank, it may be that both these papers are based on the same raw data.

David if you PM me your email address I can send you the paper.
Murray Lord is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Short-tailed Shearwater? Sydney, NSW Laurie Knight Bird Identification Q&A 3 Saturday 16th July 2011 10:42
Short-tailed Shearwater or Wot? Seashore Your Birding Day 2 Friday 22nd October 2010 20:27
Sooty Shearwater and Chips for $14 Paul Godolphin Live Bird News from around the World 2 Saturday 6th October 2007 05:29
Sooty Shearwater??? kas Bird Identification Q&A 7 Wednesday 16th August 2006 07:49


Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.11603689 seconds with 17 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 00:35.