Morus bassanus (Linnaeus, 1758) GX GANNE 710
Family: Suliformes > Sulidae

Gannet, Allan Drewitt

With its two metre wingspan, warm yellow head, white body and black wingtips, this impressive bird will be familiar to most birdwatchers.

Even though the Gannet is restricted to a couple of dozen breeding colonies, individuals may be seen anywhere around our coast throughout the year. The breeding colonies are noisy, pungent affairs, the birds packed together with each individual just out of beak reach of its neighbours.

After the breeding season, most of our Gannets move to winter in the Bay of Biscay or further south to the coasts of west Africa, with some individuals crossing the Equator.


Gannet identification is usually straightforward.


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


Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

Browse training courses

Status and Trends

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


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



Much of the world population of this species breeds in the UK or Republic of Ireland,with most colonies located on offshore islands. Gannet colonies have been censused regularly with the last Census in 2013–15 and have increased consistently since 1969–70 by around 2% per annum (JNCC 2022).


The Gannet breeding distribution map shows that birds were recorded from virtually every coastal 10-km square in Britain and Ireland, representing a combination of adult birds ranging widely on foraging trips from colonies, non-breeding adults and immature birds. Confirmed breeding was confined to 32 10-km squares. In winter, Gannets were widely recorded around the entire coastlines of Britain and Ireland, with highest concentrations around the Northern Isles, off southeast Scotland, northwest and southwest England, and southwest Ireland.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Gannets can be seen year-round, though more often recorded in the breeding season and in early autumn.

Weekly occurence of Gannet 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.


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


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

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


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



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


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

Gaelic: Sùlaire
Welsh: Hugan
Catalan: mascarell atlàntic
Czech: terej bílý
Danish: Sule
Dutch: Jan-van-gent
Estonian: suula
Finnish: suula
French: Fou de Bassan
German: Basstölpel
Hungarian: szula
Icelandic: Súla
Irish: Gainéad
Italian: Sula
Latvian: ziemelu sulla
Lithuanian: šiaurinis padukelis
Norwegian: Havsule
Polish: gluptak (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: alcatraz
Slovak: sula biela
Slovenian: strmoglavec
Spanish: Alcatraz atlántico
Swedish: havssula
Folkname: Solan Goose


Interpretation and scientific publications about Gannet from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

There are no clear reasons for the substantial increases in Gannet numbers. Like other seabird species, fisheries discards may have played a role in the second half of the twentieth century. Gannets have high survival rates, can fly long distances to forage and are adaptable and these factors may also have helped drive increases (JNCC 2022), which have continued (at least so far) in spite of reductions in fisheries discards which are affecting other species (Bicknell et al. 2013). However, a north American study has found that increasing sea surface temperatures (due to climate change) and over-exploitation by fisheries may be affecting productivity and causing declines at the southernmost colonies in Canada (d'Entremont et al. 2022). Hence, it is possible that similar issues could affect UK colonies in the future.


Peer-reviewed papers
Gannets, by Edmund Fellowes/BTO

Mismatches in scale between highly mobile marine megafauna and marine protected areas

Are marine protected areas working?

2022 | Connors, M.G., Sinnon, N.B., Agamboue, P.D., Atkinson, P.W., Bayliss, A., Benson, S.R., Block, B.A., Bograd, S.J., Bordino, B., Bowen, D., Brickle, P., Bruno, I., Carman, V.G., Champagne, C.D., Crocker, D., Costa, D.P., Dawson, T.M., Deguchi, T., Dewar, H., Doherty, P.D., Eguchi, T., Formia, A., Godley, B.J., Graham, R.T., Gredzens, C., Hart, K.M., Hawkes, L.A., Henderson, S. Henry, W., Hückstädt, L.A., Irvine, L., Kienle, S., Kuhn, C.E., Lidgard, D., Loredo, S.A., Mate, B., Metcalfe, K., Nzegoue, J., Oliwina, C.K.K., Orben, R.A., Ozaki, K., Parnell, R., Pike, E.P., Robinson, P.,. Rosenbaum, H., Sato, S., Shaffer, S.A., Shaver, D.J., Simmons, S.E., Sisson, N.B., Smith, B.J., Sounguet, G.P., Suryan, R., Thompson, D.R., Tierney, M., Tilley, D., Young, H.S., Warwick-Evans, V., Weise, M.J., Wells, R.S., Wilkinson, B.P., Witt, M.J. & Maxwell, S.M.Frontiers in Marine Science

Peer-reviewed papers

Predicting the impacts of wind farms on seabirds: An individual-based model

2017 | Warwick-Evans, V., Atkinson, P.W., Walkington, I. & Green, J.A.Journal of Applied Ecology


Peer-reviewed papers

Predictive modelling to identify near-shore, fine-scale seabird distributions during the breeding season

2016 | Warwick-Evans V.C., Atkinson P.W., Robinson L.A. & Green J.A.PLoS ONE

Peer-reviewed papers

Survival of Gannets Morus bassanus in Britain and Ireland, 1959-2002

2006 | Wanless, S., Frederiksen, M., Harris, M.P. & Freeman, S.N.Bird Study

Peer-reviewed papers

Use of gannets to monitor prey availability in the NE Atlantic Ocean: colony size, diet and foraging behaviour

2006 | Hamer, K.C., Lewis, S., Wanless, S., Phillips, R.A., Sherratt, T.N., Humphreys, E.M., Hennicke, J. & Garthe, S.

Links to more information from

Would you like to search for another species?