What is a seabird?

Seabirds are birds that have adapted to life within the marine environment.


The birds covered belong to the Orders Sphenisciformes (penguins), Procellariiformes (albatross, petrels and shearwaters), Pelecaniformes (tropicbirds, frigatebirds, gannets, cormorants and pelicans), and the Family Stercorariidae (skuas) and Laridae (gulls and terns). 


Most species nest in colonies, which can vary in size from a few dozen birds to millions. Many species are famous for undertaking long annual migrations, crossing the equator or circumnavigating the Earth in some cases. They feed both at the ocean's surface and below it, and even feed on each other. Seabirds can be highly pelagic, coastal, or in some cases spend a part of the year away from the sea entirely.

Silver Gull
Silver Gull

A recent review of Australia’s seabirds indicated that the biology of many species is well known by comparison with that of many terrestrial birds and other marine organisms; however, the quality of information on population levels and response to threatening processes and conservation status is poor for most species (Ross et al. 1996; Baker et al. 2002).