Pink-footed shearwater (Puffinus creatopus) COSEWIC assessment and status report: chapter 3

Species Information

Name and classification

Puffinus creatopus Coues, 1864 is commonly known as the Pink-footed Shearwater. The French name is Puffin à pieds roses. Taxonomy is as follows:










Puffinus creatopus

The Pink-footed Shearwater is very closely related to the Flesh-footed Shearwater (Puffinus carneipes), but the latter has an entirely dark plumage. Harrison (1983) notes that some consider the Pink-footed Shearwater to be a southern form of the Flesh-footed, while Bourne et al. (1992) refer to the species as Puffinus (carneipes) creatopus. However, the widely followed list of world bird species of Sibley and Monroe (1990) and the official North American list of bird species published by the American Ornithologists Union (AOU) (1998) both consider the two species separate, though close enough to be a superspecies.


The Pink-footed Shearwater (Figure 1) is a stocky and rather broad-winged seabird. In flight, individuals appear heavy, with laboured wingbeats (Martin and Myres 1969, Sibley 2000). The plumage, described as variable by Harrison (1983), is a combination of grayish-brown upperparts, white underparts with smudgy markings, mottled underwings, and a dusky head (Harrison 1983, Sibley 2000). The iris is brown, the bill pinkish-yellow with a dusky tip, and the legs and feet are pink. Juveniles and adults are alike in plumage, as are the sexes, with no seasonal variation (Harrison 1983). Adult length averages 48 cm (19 inches), the wingspan 109 cm (43 inches) (Harrison 1983), and weight 720 g (1.6 lbs) (Sibley 2000). Its large size, pale bill and pale grey underparts differentiate it from other northern Pacific shearwaters.

Figure 1. Pink-footed Shearwater Puffinus creatopus (photo by Greg Lasley)

Figure 1.  Pink-footed Shearwater Puffinus creatopus (photo by Greg Lasley).

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