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Northern Fulmar

About Northern Fulmar

Strong bodied, with thick neck; stubby, with hooked yellow bill with prominent tubular nostrils on top; has a short, diamond-shaped tail with stiff wings. Almost all fulmars have gray and white plumage, like a gull, but the Arctic birds are darker.

They nest in coastal cliff colonies each spring, but they can and will claim a territory well before they breed. They lay 1 white egg on a bare rock ledge or hollow; both parents will incubate the egg for 47-53 days. But they don’t breed until the ages of 7-10 years.

Although it looks like a gull, the northern fulmar is really a tubenosed petrel. It is related to the great Albatrosses that patrol the storm waves of the southern oceans. It flies like a smaller albatross, gliding on stiff, straight wings. It can cope with high winds. Northern fulmars spend most of their lives feeding at sea, far from land. They have to rest on the water. Their legs are almost useless on land. Fulmars go to land only to breed. Fulmar pairs like to lay on narrow ledges near the tops of cliffs, where the dirt and grass provide a soft spot for their eggs. Once they have bred successfully they return to the same nest sites and mates each year.

When the chick hatches, its parents feed it on a soup of partly disgested fish and fish oil.