Townsend's shearwater

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Townsend's shearwater
Townsends Shearwater (4684878289).jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Procellariiformes
Family: Procellariidae
Genus: Puffinus
Species: P. auricularis
Binomial name
Puffinus auricularis
Townsend, 1890

Puffinus auricularis auricularis

The Townsend's shearwater, Puffinus auricularis, is a rare seabird of the tropics from the family Procellariidae.

Its relationships are unresolved. Its closest relatives are probably, but not certainly, the Hawaiian shearwater (Puffinus newelli) and possibly the Manx shearwater (Puffinus puffinus) (Austin, 1996; Austin et al., 2004). It formerly contained the former as a subspecies and was long considered a subspecies of the latter. The relationship of the Rapa shearwater, P. myrtae in regard to these species are also in need of research; this taxon was until recently placed in P. assimilis (Austin et al., 2004), but now raised to full species status by the IOC and the NACC of the AOU.

This species breeds around Cerro Evermann on Isla Socorro in the Revillagigedo Islands, Mexico. The main threat to this species comes from feral cats introduced to Socorro in the early 1970s. Sheep are also destroying breeding habitat. The species bred on Isla Clarión until 1988, where habitat and nesting sites were destroyed by introduced pigs, sheep and rabbits.

The species is named for Charles Haskins Townsend (1859-1944), eminent American ornithologist and ichthyologist.


  • Austin, Jeremy J. (1996): Molecular Phylogenetics of Puffinus Shearwaters: Preliminary Evidence from Mitochondrial Cytochrome b Gene Sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 6(1): 77–88. doi:10.1006/mpev.1996.0060 (HTML abstract)
  • 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

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