Australasian Gannet

Australasian Gannet
Australasian Gannet
At Cape Kidnappers
About this sound Vocalizations at the colony
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Sulidae
Genus: Morus
Species: M. serrator
Binomial name
Morus serrator
Gray, 1843

The Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator or Sula bassana, also Australian Gannet, Tākapu) is a large seabird of the gannet family Sulidae.

Adults are mostly white, with black flight feathers at the wingtips and lining the trailing edge of the wing. The central tail feathers are also black. The head is yellow, with a pale blue-grey bill edged in black, and blue-rimmed eyes.

Young birds have mottled plumage in their first year, dark above and light below. The head is an intermediate mottled grey, with a dark bill. The birds gradually acquire more white in subsequent seasons until they reach maturity after five years.

Their breeding habitat is on islands off Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand. They normally nest in large colonies on coastal islands. A large exception is the protected colony on the mainland at Cape Kidnappers (5000 pairs). There are also mainland colonies at Muriwai and Farewell Spit.[1]

Gannet pairs may remain together over several seasons. They perform elaborate greeting rituals at the nest, stretching their bills and necks skywards and gently tapping bills together. The adults mainly stay close to colonies, whilst the younger birds disperse.

These birds are plunge divers and spectacular fishers, plunging into the ocean at high speed. They mainly eat squid and forage fish which school near the surface.

Numbers of Australasian Gannet have been increasing since 1950, although some colonies have disappeared and others have decreased in size.

References

  1. ^ Maggy Wassilieff. New Zealand's main gannet colonies, 'Gannets and boobies', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Wellington: Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Updated 2 March 2009.
  • BirdLife International (2004). Morus serrator. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern

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