Manx Shearwater

Puffinus puffinus (Brünnich, 1764) MX MANSH 460
Family: Procellariiformes > Procellariidae

This medium-sized sooty black and white seabird is a skilful navigator of the open ocean, but rarely seen on land.

Manx shearwaters are long-lived birds that typically glide on stiff wings low over the sea surface. They are nocturnal at their breeding colonies, which are often located in steep and inaccessible terrain at a few dozen localities, mostly located on our western seaboard.

Outside of the breeding season, these migratory birds winter in the South Atlantic, predominantly off Brazil and Argentina.


Manx Shearwater identification is often straightforward.


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


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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.


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



Most of the world population of this species breeds in the UK or Republic of Ireland. The first full survey was carried out during the 1998–2002 Census (Seabird 2000). Recent surveys of the main colonies in the UK suggest that the UK population has increased substantially since Seabird 2000, possibly by as much as 50% (JNCC 2022).


Manx Shearwaters breed in roughly 50 colonies, these tending to be located on steep grassy slopes on offshore islands, mainly along the western coastlines of both Britain and Ireland. However, they are wide-ranging during the summer with foraging individuals seen throughout the coastlines of Britain and Ireland.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK


Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Manx Shearwater is a breeding season visitor, arriving in late winter/early spring and then widely reported in early autumn as birds depart for the southern hemisphere.

Weekly occurence of Manx Shearwater 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 Manx Shearwater 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 Manx Shearwater, 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



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

Gaelic: Fachach-bàn
Welsh: Aderyn Drycin Manaw
Catalan: baldriga pufí
Czech: burnák severní
Danish: Almindelig Skråpe
Dutch: Noordse Pijlstormvogel
Estonian: põhja-tormilind
Finnish: pikkuliitäjä
French: Puffin des Anglais
German: Atlantiksturmtaucher
Hungarian: atlanti vészmadár
Icelandic: Skrofa
Irish: Cánóg Dhubh
Italian: Berta minore atlantica
Latvian: melnknabja vetrasputns
Lithuanian: atlantine audronaša
Norwegian: Havlire
Polish: burzyk pólnocny
Portuguese: pardela-sombria / fura-bucho-do-atlântico
Slovak: víchrovník malý
Slovenian: atlantski viharnik
Spanish: Pardela pichoneta
Swedish: mindre lira


Interpretation and scientific publications about Manx Shearwater from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

The long-term trend of Manx Sherwater is unclear due to the absence of Census data prior to 2000. The introduction of rats is believed to have caused the extermination of some colonies, although some colonies have continued to survive despite the presence of rats at low abundance (Lambert et al. 2015). Data suggest that the Manx Shearwater has recently prospered on islands where it continues to be present. The reasons for the recent apparent success of the species is unclear, particularly as these increases (should they be confirmed when the results of Seabirds Count 2015–2021 are available) are occurring at a time when other seabird species appear to be suffering declines which have been attributed to recent reductions in fisheries discards (Bicknell et al. 2013).

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