Moult of Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Spectacled Petrels and Great Shearwaters caught at sea

Leandro Bugoni (College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, UK) and colleagues have published in the journal Antarctic Science on moult of three procellariiform species in the south-west Atlantic off Brazil.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Primary, tail and body moult of three seabirds from Tristan da Cunha archipelago were studied by castnetting offshore south Brazil from February 2006 to August 2007.  Timing, duration and synchronization of primary and tail moult are described relative to the annual calendar.  Body moult overlapped breeding in Atlantic yellow-nosed albatrosses (Thalassarche chlororhynchos), but tail and primary moult did not.  Spectacled petrels (Procellaria conspicillata) had protracted body moult, whereas primary and tail moult were completed by August.  We documented onset of primary moult during chick-rearing in spectacled petrels and great shearwaters (Puffinus gravis) of unknown breeding status, and suggest that the south-west Atlantic Ocean holds important numbers of moulting birds of both species during the summer–early autumn. The albatrosses and the spectacled petrels replaced rectrices alternately. Great shearwaters replaced rectrices outward, starting at the central pair.  Primary, tail and body moult largely overlap in all three species, suggesting that the metabolic costs of primary moult may not be overly restrictive.  Metabolic and nutritional ability to afford simultaneous moult of different feather tracts support the idea that impaired flight caused by wing moult is a strong factor driving no overlap of primary moult and breeding.”


Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, photograph by Peter Ryan


Bugoni, L., Naves, L.C.& Furness, R.W. 2015.  Moult of three Tristan da Cunha seabird species sampled at sea.  Antarctic Science

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 14 January 2015

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