Volume 46, No. 2

Search by author or title:

Streaked Shearwater Calonectris leucomelas moonlight avoidance in response to low aerial predation pressure, and effects of wind speed and direction on colony attendance


1College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, 177 Roberts Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA (aimee.van.tatenhove@gmail .com)
2Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6GG, UK
3Graduate School of Fisheries Sciences, Hokkaido University, 3-1-1 Minato-cho, Hakodate, Hokkaido, 041-8611, Japan
4Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan


VAN TATENHOVE, A., FAYET, A., WATANUKI, Y., YODA, K. & SHOJI, A. 2018. Streaked Shearwater Calonectris leucomelas moonlight avoidance in response to low aerial predation pressure, and effects of wind speed and direction on colony attendance. Marine Ornithology 46: 177 - 185

Received 16 April 2018, accepted 3 August 2018

Date Published: 2018/10/15
Date Online: 2018/10/09
Key words: moonlight avoidance, diurnal predators, wind conditions, colony attendance, Streaked Shearwater, Calonectris leucomelas, Sea of Japan


Many species of Procellaridae are nocturnal on their breeding grounds, exhibiting reduced activity during fuller moonlight, perhaps to avoid predation by predators that use the full moon to hunt after sunset. Among these nocturnal species, Streaked Shearwaters Calonectris leucomelas have high wing loading and have difficulty taking off—especially with unfavorable wind conditions—thus potentially exacerbating moonlight avoidance. Effects of moonlight and wind conditions on the colony activity of this species, however, is poorly understood. We investigated the phenomenon by counting the departure and arrival of birds, and measuring ambient light intensity, local wind speed, and local wind direction at a breeding colony of Streaked Shearwaters on Awashima Island, Japan. Moon phase and ambient light had no significant effect on the frequency of arrivals or departures. Frequency of departures decreased significantly with increasing wind speed, but no effect was seen on arrivals, and wind direction had no effect on arrivals or departures. Our results indicate that: (1) wind speed may play an important role in Streaked Shearwater takeoff from the colony, and (2) moonlight avoidance is a plastic trait that may diminish in large-bodied shearwaters when few diurnal aerial predators are present.


BOURGEOIS, K., DROMZÉE, S., VIDAL, É. & LEGRAND, J. 2008. Yelkouan shearwater Puffinus yelkouan presence and behaviour at colonies: not only a moonlight question. Comptes Rendus Biologies 331: 88-97. doi: 10.1016/j.crvi.2007.10.008

BRETAGNOLLE, V. 1990b. Effet de la lune sur l'activite des Petrels (Aves) aux iles Salvages (Portugal). Canadian Journal of Zoology 68: 1404-1409. doi: 10.1139/z90-209

DECANDIDO, R. & ALLEN, D. 2006. Nocturnal hunting by peregrine falcons at the empire state building, New York City. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 118: 53-58. doi: 10.1676/1559-4491(2006)118[0053:NHBPFA]2.0.CO;2

FALCHI, F., CINZANO, P., DURISCOE, D. ET AL. 2016. The new world atlas of artificial night sky brightness. Science Advances 2: e1600377. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1600377

FURNESS, R.W. & BRYANT, D.M. 1996. Effect of wind on field metabolic rates of breeding northern fulmars. Ecology 77: 1181-1188.

GRANADEIRO, J.P., BURNS, M.D. & FURNESS, R.W. 1998b. Patterns of activity and burrow attendance in Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea as revealed by a novel logging technique. Ibis 140: 458-466. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.1998.tb04607.x

HAMER, K. & READ, H. 1987. Patterns of return to land in a colony of Cory's Shearwaters (Calonectris diomedea) on Selvagem Grande. Seabird 10: 3-11.

HARPER, P. C. 1983. Biology of the Buller's Shearwater at the Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand. Notornis 30: 299-318.

HERTEL, F. & BALLANCE, L. 1999. Wing ecomorphology of seabirds from Johnston Atoll. The Condor 101: 549-556. doi: 10.2307/1370184

HENDERSON, C. & KALLOK, M. 2012. Young naturalists: how do birds fly? Minnesota Conservation Volunteer. [Available online at: Accessed 2 Nov 2017].

IMBER, M. 1975. Behaviour of petrels in relation to the moon and artificial lights. Notornis 22: 302-306.

KEITT, B.S., TERSHY, B.R. & CROLL, D.A. 2004. Nocturnal behavior reduces predation pressure on Black-vented Shearwaters Puffinus opisthomelas. Marine Ornithology 32: 173-178.

KLOMP, N.I. & FURNESS, R.W. 1992. Patterns of chick feeding in Cory's Shearwaters and the association with ambient light. Colonial Waterbirds 15: 95-102. doi: 10.2307/1521358

KOGURE, Y., SATO, K., WATANUKI, Y., WANLESS, S. & DAUNT, F. 2016. European shags optimize their flight behavior according to wind conditions. Journal of Experimental Biology 219: 311-318. doi: 10.1242/jeb.131441

MACDONALD, M.A. 1980. The winter attendance of fulmars at land in NE Scotland. Ornis Scandinavica 11: 23-29. doi: 10.2307/3676262

MALLORY, M., GASTON, A., FORBES, M. & GILCHRIST, G. 2009a. Factors influencing colony attendance by Northern Fulmars in the Canadian High Arctic. Arctic 62: 151-158. doi: 10.14430/arctic128

MALLORY, M., GASTON, A., & GILCHRIST, G. 2009b. Sources of breeding season mortality in Canadian Arctic seabirds. Arctic 62: 333-341. 

MOUGEOT, F. & BRETAGNOLLE, V. 2000. Predation risk and moonlight avoidance in nocturnal seabirds. Journal of Avian Biology 31: 376-386. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-048X.2000.310314.x

MOUGIN, J. L., JOUANIN, C. & ROUX, F. 2002. The time of first returns to land by Cory's Shearwater Calonectris [diomedea] borealis on Selvagem Grande during the breeding period. Atlantic Seabirds 4: 63-72.

ONLEY, D. & SCOFIELD, P. 2007. Albatrosses, Petrels and Shearwaters of the World. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing.

POWELL, C., BRADLEY, S. & WOOLLER, R. 2008. Is colony attendance by shearwaters influenced by bright moonlight or inclement weather? Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 142: 35-44.

RICHDALE, L.E. 1963. Biology of the Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 141: 1-117. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1963.tb01603.x

RODRÍGUEZ, A. & RODRÍGUEZ, B. 2009. Attraction of petrels to artificial lights in the Canary Islands: effect of the moon phase and age class. Ibis 151: 299-310. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2009.00925.x

ROSS, E. & BRUNTON, D. 2002. Seasonal trends and nightly variation in colony attendance of grey-faced petrels (Pterodroma macroptera gouldi). Notornis 49: 153-15.

RUBOLINI, D., MAGGINI, I., AMBROSINI, R. ET AL. 2014. The effect of moonlight on Scopoli's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea colony attendance patterns and nocturnal foraging: a test of the foraging efficiency hypothesis. Ethology 120: 1-16. doi: 10.1111/eth.12338

SATO, K., SAKAMOTO, K., WATANUKI, Y. ET AL. 2009. Scaling of soaring seabirds and implications for flight abilities of giant pterosaurs. PLoS ONE 4: e5400. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005400

SHIRAI, M., NIIZUMA, Y., TSUCHIYA, K., YAMAMOTO, M. & OKA, N. 2013. Sexual size dimorphism in Streaked Shearwaters Calonectris leucomelas. Ornithological Science 12: 57-62. doi: 10.2326/osj.12.57

SHIOZAKI, T., M. SHIRAI, M. OSUGI, M. YAMAMOTO & K. YODA. 2014. Predation by feral cat on Streaked shearwater chicks on Awashima [in Japanese with English abstract]. Japanese Journal of Ornithology 63: 75-78.

SILVA, M. & GRANADEIRO, P. 2011. Effects of predation risk on the nocturnal activity budgets of thin-billed Prions Pachyptila belcheri on New Island, Falkland Islands. Polar Biology 34: 412-429. doi: 10.1007/s00300-010-0897-6

SNOW, D.W. 1965. The breeding of Audubon's shearwater (Puffinus lherminieri) in the Galápagos. Auk 82: 591-59. doi: 10.2307/4083221

SPEAR, L.B. & AINLEY, D.G. 1997a. Flight behaviour of seabirds in relation to wind direction and wing morphology. Ibis 139: 221-233. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.1997.tb04620.x

SPEAR, L.B. & AINLEY, D.G. 1997b. Flight speed of seabirds in relation to wind speed and direction. Ibis 139: 234-251. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.1997.tb04621.x

SYPOSZ, M., GONÇALVES, F., CARTY, M., HOPPITT, W. & MANCO, F. 2018. Factors influencing Manx Shearwater grounding on the west coast of Scotland. Ibis. doi: 10.1111/ibi.12594.

TELFER, T., SINCOCK, J., BYRD, G. & REED, J. 1987. Attraction of Hawaiian seabirds to lights: conservation efforts and effects of moon phase. Wildlife Society Bulletin 15: 406-413.

THAYER, J., SYDEMAN, W., FAIRMAN, N. & ALLEN, S. 1999. Attendance and effects of disturbance on coastal Common Murre Colonies at Point Reyes, California. Waterbirds: The International Journal of Waterbird Biology 22: 130-139.

VAN AARDE, R.J. 1980. The diet and feeding behaviour of feral cats, Felis catus at Marion Island. South African Journal of Wildlife Research 10: 123-128.

VAN RENSBURG, P.J.J. 1985. The feeding ecology of a decreasing feral house cat, Felis catus, population at Marion Island. In: SIEGFRIED, W.R., CONDY, P.R. & LAWS, R.M. (Eds.) Antarctic Nutrient Cycles and Food Webs. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-82275-9_84. 

WARHAM, J. 1977. Wing loadings, wing shapes, and flight capabilities of Procellariiformes. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 4: 73-83. doi: 10.1080/03014223.1977.9517938

WATANUKI, Y. 1986. Moonlight avoidance behavior in Leach's storm petrels as a defense against slaty-backed gulls. Auk 103: 14-22.

WEIDINGER, K. 1996a. Effects of weather on the cyclic patterns of colony attendance in the cape petrel Daption capense. Polar biology 16: 330-344. doi: 10.1007/BF02342181

WEIMERSKIRCH, H., GUIONNET, T., MARTIN, J., SHAFFER, S. & COSTA, D. 2000. Fast and fuel efficient? Optimal use of wind by flying albatrosses. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 267: 1869-1874. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2000.1223

WHITE, C., CLUM, N., CADE, T. & HUNT, W. 2002. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), version 2.0. In: Rodewald, P. (Ed.) The Birds of North America Online. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. doi: 10.2173/bna.660

YAMAMOTO, M. 2010. Breeding population estimate of Streaked shearwaters by GIS on Awashima Island. Japanese Ornithological Congress, Funahashi, Japan (Poster in Japanese).

YAMAMOTO, M., WAGA, N., OHIRA, C., SHIRAI, M. & YODA. K. 2016. Population estimate and management of feral cats on Awashima Island. Japanese Ornithological Congress, Sapporo, Japan (Poster in Japanese).

YAMAMOTO, T., KOHNO, H., MIZUTANI, A. ET AL. 2016. Geographical variation in body size of a pelagic seabird, the streaked shearwater Calonectris leucomelas. Journal of Biogeography 43: 801-808. doi: 10.1111/jbi.12654

YOUNG, E.C. 1978. Behavioural ecology of lonnbergi skuas in relation to environment on the Chatham Islands, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 5: 401-416. doi: 10.1080/03014223.1978.10428326

Search by author or title:

Browse previous volumes: