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Shearwater and Muttonbird
04 May 2023

It’s that time of year when Shearwater young emerge from their burrows. And like all teenagers, they can be a bit of a danger to themselves on the road!

The two species of shearwater that breed near roads on LHI are the Flesh-footed Shearwater, Ardeena carneipes and Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Ardeena pacificus (images below). Both are at risk of being run over by cars where their nesting colonies are dissected by roads.

Shearwaters are clumsy on land and are disorientated and startled by lights. Driving around them, even at low speeds, is often not effective at preventing unwanted deaths.

Drivers can help to protect our young Shearwaters by simply slowing down around known nesting areas and by taking the time to ‘Shift a Shearwater’ or ‘Move a Mutto’ off the road.

Outdoor lights can also disorient and attract Shearwaters – so turning yours off at this time of the year helps. You might get a better night’s sleep too!

Shearwaters commence breeding from 5-8 years of age. They arrive on LHI in late August and start nesting in late November – early December. A single egg is laid per year in a burrow 0.2m to 3m in length, with pairs returning to the same burrow every year. It takes both adults to successfully raise a chick. If one parent dies, the chick is likely to die due to lack of food.

Flesh-footed Shearwaters are listed as a vulnerable species and are in global decline. Ensuring that every nesting pair has the best chance to fledge young on LHI is an important step in reducing the decline of these magnificent seabirds. Their future is in our hands.



Suzie Christensen

Chief Executive Officer

Date: 04 May 2023