Tuesday, July 31, 2012

San Francisco Bay Area Seabirds, Northern Fulmar

San Francisco Bay Area Bird Watching
SeaBirds of Marin, SF Bay and Gulf of the Farallones

Northern Fulmar

Northern Fulmar Facts:
Northern Fulmar Scientific classification
  • Northern Fulmar Kingdom: Animalia
  • Northern Fulmar Phylum: Chordata
  • Northern Fulmar Class: Aves
  • Northern Fulmar Order: Procellariiformes
  • Northern Fulmar Family: Procellariidae
  • Northern Fulmar Genus: Fulmarus
  • Northern Fulmar Species: F. glacialis
Binomial name
  • Fulmaris glacialis
Northern Fulmar Description:
The Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), or Arctic Fulmar lives in the north Atlantic and north Pacific. These fulmars look superficially like gulls, but are unrelated, and are in fact petrels. The species is grey and white with a yellow bill, 43-52 cm in length with a 101-117 cm wingspan. The Northern Fulmar has both a light morph and dark morph plumage.

This photograph was taken at the Continental Shelf in the Gulf of the Farallones during late summer. This is a pelagic bird meaning that it spends most of its live on the open sea. To get to the Contintental Shelf take a natural history or whale watching tour to the Gulf of the Farallones in summer on a specifically advertised Continental Shelf trip. They are large elegant birds often found near Albatross and have had superstition ranging from ominous to good luck amoung mariners historically.

Procellariiformes (from the Latin procella, a storm) is an order of birds formerly called Tubinares and still called tubenoses in English. The definition of Procellariiformes or seabirds called "Tubenoses", which is what makes these birds remarkable is that all of them have their nostrils enclosed in one or two tubes on their straight, deeply grooved bills with hooked tips. The tubes may be used to smell or to excrete salt when these birds drink salt water. The beaks are made up from several plates. Wings are long and narrow; feet are webbed, and the hind toe is undeveloped or non-existent. Plumage is predominantly black or gray. 

The longer-winged species fly using a switchback technique to minimise active flapping. All eat fish, squid or similar marine prey. 

Most are unable to walk well on land, and many species visit their remote breeding islands only at night. The exceptions are the huge albatrosses, several of the gadfly petrels and shearwaters and the fulmar-petrels. The latter can disable even large predatory birds with their obnoxious stomach oil, which they can project some distance. This stomach oil is a digestive residue created in the foregut of all tubenoses except the diving petrels, and is used mainly for storage of energy rich food as well as for defence 

Learn More about the Northern Fulmar at OIKONOS.org

Read How Northern Fulmars Track Pelagic Marine Debris. Fulmars ingest items from the ocean surface in their search for food. Past studies in Alaska reported 58 - 84% of fulmar stomachs contained plastic trash.

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Northern Fulmar, San Francisco Bay Area SeaBirds

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