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Petrels Shearwaters and Fulmars: Procellariidae - Physical Characteristics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsPetrels Shearwaters and Fulmars: Procellariidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Manx Shearwater (puffinus Puffinus): Species Accounts, Northern Fulmar (fulmarus Glacialis): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, PETRELS


Procellariids (members of the family Procellariidae) have hooked bills that assist them in handling slippery food. The tubular (tube-shaped) nostrils are credited with the birds' well-developed sense of smell used for locating food from far away as well as nests in the dark.

These birds range from 9.1 to 11 inches (23 to 28 centimeters) to 31.9 to 39 inches (81 to 99 centimeters), depending on the species. Wingspans measure about 6.6 feet (2 meters). Procellariids are covered in white, blue, gray, brown, and black feathers. Unlike other wildlife, coloration does not vary by sex or season.

Because their legs are rather weak, procellariids are generally awkward on land. They do not actually walk, but rather shuffle on their breasts and wings. The exception to this is the giant petrel, whose legs are strong.

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