T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Shearwater (Hutton's shearwater) Puffinus huttoni

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Procellariiformes
Family: Procellariidae
Genus: Puffinus
Species: P. huttoni
Binomial name: Puffinus huttoni
Common name: Hutton's shearwater, kaikoura tītī

Hutton's shearwater (Puffinus huttoni) is an ocean-going shearwater that is 36–38 cm in length and has a 75 cm wingspan. It is brown with a white underbelly and brown collar, dark borders to the underwing, a long dark grey bill, and pinkish dark-webbed feet; it can be distinguished from fluttering shearwater by its dark grey "armpits".
These birds live entirely at sea unless breeding. Its range is Australian and New Zealand waters, but it breeds only in mainland New Zealand, in just two remaining alpine colonies (1000 to 1600 metres above sea level) in the Seaward Kaikoura range. Because six other colonies have been wiped out by introduced pigs, a protected artificial colony has been established near the town of Kaikoura. During October or November the female lays one egg in a burrow. Incubation takes about 50 days. The young birds fledge in March or April.
Hutton's shearwater feeds in the open ocean largely on small fish and krill, diving up to 20 m. Puffinus huttoni’s long bills are adapted to catch prey more or less underwater by plunging from a few meters above the surface or by paddling slowly forwards searching with their head submerged, then diving using partly opened wings for propulsion.

These birds formerly bred in both the Seaward and Inland Kaikoura mountains in historic times, and Māori collected the young "muttonbirds" for food. The eight breeding colonies discovered in 1964 have been reduced to two, the other lower-altitude colonies destroyed by introduced feral pigs. Their main predators are introduced stoats, which kill about 0.25% of adults and 12% of chicks each year in their nesting burrows.

  


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