Barolo shearwater

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Barolo shearwater
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Procellariiformes
Family: Procellariidae
Genus: Puffinus
Species: P. baroli
Binomial name
Puffinus baroli, see text
Bonaparte, 1857

The Barolo shearwater (Puffinus baroli), also known as the North Atlantic little shearwater or Macaronesian shearwater, is a small shearwater which breeds in the Azores and Canaries of Macaronesia in the North Atlantic Ocean. Puffinus is a New Latin loanword based on the English "puffin" and its variants, such as poffin, pophyn and puffing,[1] that referred to the cured carcass of the fat nestling of the Manx shearwater, a former delicacy. The specific baroli refers to Carlo Tencredi Falletti, marquis of Barolo.[2]


It was previously considered conspecific with the little shearwater (Puffinus assimilis) of the Southern Hemisphere. Mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b sequence analysis (Austin et al., 2004) indicates, however, that baroli and boydi are very close to the nominate subspecies of Audubon's shearwater. Whether the morphological distinctness and the non-overlapping ranges, or the genetic similarity[3] are considered to be more significant is a matter of opinion, and the taxonomic status of these birds remains equivocal. Although some institutions (such as BirdLife International) retain the forms baroli and boydi within little shearwater, this is as a result of inaccurate lumping in the past, and is not supported by modern evidence. The British Ornithologists' Union has accepted P. baroli as a distinct species (Sangster et al. 2005), as has Clements Checklist. The American Ornithologists' Union followed in 2013.


Features that distinguish the Barolo shearwater from the Manx shearwater and other North Atlantic Puffinus species include the pale face, silvery panel in the upperwings, shorter more rounded wings, and blue feet.[4]


Like other Procellariforms, introduced predators (rats and cats) must be their main threats at breeding colonies. In addition, fledglings are attracted to artificial lights at night during their maiden flights from nests to the sea.[5] On Tenerife, Canary Islands, a decline on the number of birds attracted to lights have been reported, suggesting a population decline on the island.[6]



  1. ^ "Puffin". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 14 December 2014. (subscription required)
  2. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 67, 323. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4. 
  3. ^ Note that mtDNA is of somewhat dubious value for species-level taxonomic revisions in Procellariiformes, due to these birds' long lifespan and some genetic peculiarities. See also Rheindt & Austin (2005).
  4. ^ McGeehan & Mullarney 1995, Martin & Rowlands 2001.
  5. ^ Rodríguez, Airam (2009). "Attraction of petrels to artificial lights in the Canary Islands: effects of the moon phase and age class". Ibis 151: 299–310. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2009.00925.x. 
  6. ^ Rodríguez, Airam (2012). "Trends in numbers of petrels attracted to artificial lights suggest population declines in Tenerife, Canary Islands". Ibis 154: 167–172. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01175.x. 


  • Austin, Jeremy J.; Bretagnolle, Vincent & Pasquet, Eric (2004): A global molecular phylogeny of the small Puffinus shearwaters and implications for systematics of the Little–Audubon's Shearwater complex. Auk 121(3): 847–864. DOI: 10.1642/0004-8038(2004)121[0847:AGMPOT]2.0.CO;2 HTML abstract
  • Collinson, M. (2006): Splitting headaches? Recent taxonomic changes affecting the British and Western Palaearctic lists. British Birds 99(6): 306–323.
  • Rheindt, F. E. & Austin, Jeremy J. (2005): Major analytical and conceptual shortcomings in a recent taxonomic revision of the Procellariiformes—A reply to Penhallurick and Wink (2004). Emu 105(2): 181–186 PDF full text
  • Sangster, G.; Collinson, J. M.; Helbig, A. J.; Knox, A. G. & Parkin, D. T. (2005) Taxonomic recommendations for British birds: third report. Ibis 147(4): 821–826. DOI: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2005.00483.x


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