/shear"waw'teuhr, -wot'euhr/, n.
any of several long-winged petrels of the genus Puffinus that appear to shear the water with their wing tips when flying low.
[1665-75; SHEAR + WATER]

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Any of numerous species (family Procellariidae) of long-winged seabirds named for their habit of gliding on stiff wings along wave troughs.

Typical shearwaters are the 12–17 drab, slender-billed species of Puffinus, 14–26 in. (35–65 cm) long. Shearwaters nest in a burrow on offshore islands and coastal hills in the Atlantic and Mediterranean and throughout most of the Pacific. A colony may consist of hundreds of thousands of pairs; at night, when the calling adults move in and out of the burrows, the din is deafening. See also fulmar, petrel.

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      any member of more than a dozen species of long-winged oceanic birds belonging to the family Procellariidae (order Procellariiformes), which also includes the fulmars and the petrels. Typical shearwaters are the 12 to 17 species of the genus Puffinus, drab, slender-billed birds 35–65 centimetres (14–26 inches) in length. The common name shearwater describes the birds' habit of gliding on stiff wings along the troughs of waves. The name is sometimes also applied to the skimmers, an unrelated oceanic bird family (see skimmer).

      Shearwaters nest in burrows on offshore islands and coastal hills in the North Atlantic, eastern South Atlantic, Mediterranean, and throughout most of the Pacific. Colonies may number hundreds of thousands of pairs, and at night, when the calling adults move in and out of the burrows, the din is deafening. A single egg is incubated in turn by the male and female, and the chick is raised by both parents.

      Some of the most widespread Puffinus species are:

      Sooty shearwater (P. griseus): length about 50 cm (19 1/2 in.), wingspread about 85 cm (33 in.). Breeds near Australia, New Zealand, southern South America; winters in offshore waters of Atlantic and Pacific.

      Common shearwater (P. puffinus): length 30–37 cm (11 3/4–14 1/2 in.); several races given local names. Manx shearwater (P. p. puffinus) breeds in eastern North Atlantic; Newell's (P. p. newelli) in Hawaiian Islands; other races breed in the Mediterranean and in the waters around New Zealand.

      Slender-billed or short-tailed shearwater (P. tenuirostris), called muttonbird in Australia and whalebird in Alaska; length 40 cm (15 1/2 in.), breeds on islands in Bass Strait, Australia, and in Tasmania; remainder of year spent circumnavigating the Pacific; harvested in large numbers for meat and oil.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Shearwater — Shear wa ter, n. [Shear + water; cf. G. wassersherer; so called from its running lightly along the surface of the water.] (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of numerous species of long winged oceanic birds of the genus {Puffinus} and related genera. They are… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • shearwater — [shir′wôt΄ər, shir′wät΄ər] n. [ SHEAR + WATER] any of a genus (Puffinus, family Procellariidae) of black and white tubenose sea birds that skim the water in flight …   English World dictionary

  • Shearwater — Taxobox name = Shearwaters image width = 200px image caption = Audubon s Shearwater chick regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Aves ordo = Procellariiformes familia = Procellariidae subdivision ranks = Genera subdivision = Calonectris… …   Wikipedia

  • Shearwater — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Sommaire 1 Toponymes 1.1  Australie 1.2 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • shearwater — noun Date: circa 1671 any of numerous oceanic birds (especially genus Puffinus) that are related to the petrels and usually skim close to the waves in flight …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • shearwater — noun Any of various long winged pelagic seabirds in the genera Calonectris or Puffinus, of the family Procellariidae, that breed on islands and coastal cliffs …   Wiktionary

  • shearwater — n. dark colored sea bird with long wings that flies low over water; type of petrel …   English contemporary dictionary

  • shearwater — noun 1》 a long winged seabird related to the petrels, often flying low over the water far from land. [Puffinus and other genera: many species.] 2》 North American term for skimmer (in sense 2) …   English new terms dictionary

  • shearwater — shear•wa•ter [[t]ˈʃɪərˌwɔ tər, ˌwɒt ər[/t]] n. orn any of several long winged petrels, esp. of the genera Puffinus and Calonectris, that fly low over the water in search of food • Etymology: 1665–75 …   From formal English to slang

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