Fulmar

Fulmarus glacialis (Linnaeus, 1761) F. FULMA 220
Family: Procellariiformes > Procellariidae

Fulmar, Allan Drewitt

This robust-looking seabird breeds around the coasts of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and the south-west and north-east of England, but may be encountered more widely around our shores outside of the breeding season.

Fulmar has a remarkable breeding history, its North Atlantic population originally restricted to St Kilda and an island off the coast of Iceland. The last 250 years have seen a remarkable expansion in Fulmar populations and the colonisation of suitable sites around Iceland, Britain, Ireland, northwest France and sections of the Norwegian coast. The reasons for the expansion are unclear.

Young Fulmars spend their first four or five years at sea, before visiting the colonies at which they will then breed. Even then, they will not breed themselves until they are nine years of age and reach sexual maturity.

Identification

Fulmar identification is often straightforward.

SONGS AND CALLS

Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Fulmar, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Call

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.

CONSERVATION STATUS

This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.

POPULATION SIZE

POPULATION CHANGE

The Fulmar is monitored by Seabird Censuses and by the Seabird Monitoring Programme, with sufficient colonies monitored to produce annual trends since 1985; The population increased by 77% between the 1969–70 and 1985–88 Censuses and remained relatively stable until the early 2000s. Numbers have since declined slightly but remain above the level in 1969–70 (JNCC 2022 or link to website). The Atlas maps show very little change, with a small expansion in range between 1968–72 and 1988–91 being followed by a slight contraction to 2007–11.

DISTRIBUTION

Fulmars breed around almost the entire coastline of Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and in the southwest and northeast of England. They are absent from long stretches of the east and southeast coasts of England, reflecting the limited availability of suitable seacliffs for nesting. In winter, some of these gaps are filled, indicating that Fulmars disperse more widely outside the breeding season.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2

DISTRIBUTION CHANGE

There have been small changes in breeding distribution.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK

SEASONALITY

Fulmars are present year-round, most often recorded in the breeding season until the abrupt departure of the majority of birds in September, whereafter scarce.

Weekly occurence of Fulmar from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.

Movement

Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.

RINGING RECOVERIES

View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Fulmar ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)

Biology

Lifecycle and body size information about Fulmar, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.

PRODUCTIVITY & NESTING

SURVIVAL & LONGEVITY

View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report

BIOMETRICS

Feather measurements and photos on featherbase

CODES & CLASSIFICATION

For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Eun-crom
Welsh: Aderyn Drycin y Graig
Catalan: fulmar boreal
Czech: burnák lední
Danish: Mallemuk
Dutch: Noordse Stormvogel
Estonian: jää-tormilind
Finnish: myrskylintu
French: Fulmar boréal
German: Eissturmvogel
Hungarian: északi sirályhojsza
Icelandic: Fýll
Irish: Fulmaire
Italian: Fulmaro
Latvian: kilde
Lithuanian: šiaurinis fulmaras
Norwegian: Havhest
Polish: fulmar (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: pombalete
Slovak: fulmar ladový
Slovenian: ledni viharnik
Spanish: Fulmar boreal
Swedish: stormfågel

Research

Interpretation and scientific publications about Fulmar from BTO scientists.

CAUSES AND SOLUTIONS

Causes of change

The reasons behind changes in the Fulmar population are uncertain, but changes in the supply of food by man, e.g. discards from fishing vessels, have been suggested as a possible driver of the increases in the population until the late 1980s (JNCC 2022) and similarly the more recent slight decline may have been influenced by a reduction in the amount of discards (Bicknell et al. 2013). Data from two colonies (one in Scotland and one in Ireland) suggest that there may have been a decline in survival over the period 1974 to 2009 (Cordes et al. 2015); the reasons for this are unclear but this could be a potential consequence from reductions in prey populations and bycatch from fisheries .

Links to more information from ConservationEvidence.com

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