Audubon's Shearwater Puffinus lherminieri


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The nominate subspecies has been estimated to number 7,400-20,500 pairs (Mackin 2016), with subspecies boydi estimated at 5,000 pairs on the Cape Verde Islands, and subspecies baroli numbering 895-1,741 pairs on the Azores (BirdLife International 2015), c.1,642 pairs in the Madeira region (BirdLife International 2015) (most recent estimate of c.300 pairs in the Desertas Islands, 1,500-2,200 in the Savage Islands [reviewed by Brooke 2004]) and c.400 pairs and declining in the Canary Islands (Rodríguez et al. 2012, BirdLife International 2015). Overall, this implies that the total population size includes more than 30,000 mature individuals, up to potentially 58,570 mature individuals. The population size is therefore placed in the range 30,000-59,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to the impacts of introduced species. The European population size is estimated to be decreasing at a rate approaching 10% in 66.9 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015), and also the Caribbean population appears to have undergone declines, at least historically (Mackin 2016).


The species is marine and normally found in offshore waters, but it is also pelagic and near land in the vicinity of colonies. It breeds on oceanic islands and rocky offshore islets, occupying cliffs and earthy slopes, usually with little more than herbaceous vegetation, or amongst rocks. In the north-east Atlantic, it breeds mainly late February to March (Carboneras et al. 2014). It breeds from late January. Birds from the Salvages (Madeira) arrive at colonies in July. The species is colonial, often nesting at low densities and in small numbers, sometimes in mixed colonies with other species, for example Calonectris diomedea, which out-competes the present species for burrows in the Azores (Monteiro et al. 1996). It nests in rock crevices or self-excavated burrows. The clutch is a single egg. It feeds mainly on fish, squid and crustaceans. Little is known about the species’s movements. Adults are thought to be largely sedentary, while immatures are probably more dispersive (Carboneras et al. 2014).


Introduced House Rats Rattus rattus pose a considerable threat to this species, as demonstrated by the increased breeding success (from 0 to 85-90%) following rat control programmes on the Sainte-Anne Islets, French West Indies (Pascal et al. 2003). The species is also vulnerable to human disturbance and developments. Habitat destruction may have been responsible for some local extinctions and near-extinctions. Mortality from attraction to artificial lights and subsequent grounding has been reported on the Canary Islands (Carboneras et al. 2014). Other potential threats include marine pollution, harvesting for consumption, bycatch by fisheries, development for tourism and recreational activities (Madroño et al. 2004).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
EU Birds Directive Annex I. Bern Convention Appendix II. In Spain, awareness campaigns have been run to promote the conservation of this species (Madroño et al. 2004).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Control of invasive rats and cats is needed in colonies. Breeding areas and their surroundings should be protected and new marine reserves created. Censuses and monitoring is needed to ascertain distribution and it population size. In the Canaries, studies on the impact of fisheries would help inform conservation (Madroño et al. 2004).


Text account compilers
Fjagesund, T., Bennett, S., Martin, R., Ashpole, J, Miller, E., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Westrip, J., Wheatley, H.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Puffinus lherminieri. Downloaded from on 01/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/12/2022.