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Northern Fulmar


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A gull-like relative of albatrosses and shearwaters, the Northern Fulmar is a bird of the northern oceans. It breeds in a few dozen scattered locations off Alaska and Canada, but is more abundant and widespread elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, especially in the northeast Atlantic.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
15.4–19.7 in
39–50 cm
39.4–44.1 in
100–112 cm
15.9–35.3 oz
450–1000 g
Other Names
  • Fulmar
  • Fulmar boréal (French)
  • Fulmar boreal (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Northern Fulmar is one of the longest-lived birds. Data from one study indicate a mean adult life span of about 32 years. In Scotland, several Northern Fulmars banded as adults in 1951 were still breeding in 1990, at ages likely greater than 50 years.
  • The Northern Fulmar begins breeding at an exceptionally old age. Most do not breed until they are at least 8 to 10 years old; one study found an individual that started breeding at age 20.
  • The Northern Fulmar is well known among commercial fishermen for its avid scavenging of offal thrown from whaling and fishing boats.
  • The population of Northern Fulmars in the northeast Atlantic has dramatically increased over the past 250 years. Once only one colony was found in northern Iceland, and none off the Faeroes or the British Isles. Now hundreds of colonies exist across all the coasts of these islands. It is unclear whether this change has resulted from natural oceanographic changes, from increased food availability from fishing vessels, or from some other factor.
  • The Northern Fulmar can dive to a depth of at least 3 meters (10 feet).
  • The oldest recorded Northern Fulmar was at least 19 years, 1 month old when it was found in Nunavut.



Breeds on steep sea cliffs. Winters at sea from ice-covered northern waters to temperate zones.



Fish, squid, zooplankton, offal from fishing and whaling vessels, and other animal matter found at sea.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1 eggs
Egg Description
Condition at Hatching
Downy and helpless, eyes open.
Nest Description

Scrape on bare rock or pebbles.

Nest Placement




Takes food while swimming or plunging at surface of water.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

There is no immediate threat to Northern Fulmars, but high local density of breeding populations may make the species vulnerable to catastrophic changes in food supply or other environmental conditions. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a continental population of 2.1 million breeders, rates them a 10 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and lists them as a Species of Moderate Concern. They are not listed on the 2014 State of the Birds Report.


Range Map Help

Northern Fulmar Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings


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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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