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Northern Gannet

Morus bassanus ORDER: SULIFORMES FAMILY: SULIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Breeding in only a few large colonies along the North Atlantic, the Northern Gannet spends most of its life at sea. Flocks engage in spectacular bouts of plunge-diving for fish, with hundreds of birds diving into the ocean from heights of up to 40 meters (130 feet).

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
31.9–43.3 in
81–110 cm
Wingspan
68.9–70.5 in
175–179 cm
Weight
77.6–127 oz
2200–3600 g
Other Names
  • Gannet
  • Fou de Bassan (French)
  • Bobo norteño (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Most plunge-dives are relatively shallow, but the Northern Gannet can dive as deep as 22 meters (72 feet). It uses its wings and feet to swim deeper in pursuit of fish.
  • In North America, the Northern Gannet breeds in only six well established colonies: three in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Quebec, and three in the North Atlantic off the coast of Newfoundland. In the eastern North Atlantic, it is distributed in 32 colonies from the coast of Brittany in France northward to Norway.
  • The oldest recorded Northern Gannet was at least 26 years, 1 month old when it was found in Quebec.

Habitat


Ocean

Nests on offshore islands and inaccessible cliffs. Forages offshore. Winters at sea.

Food


Fish

Fish and squid.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1 eggs
Egg Description
Pale blue or greenish.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless with little down.
Nest Description

Large, compacted pile of mud, seaweed, grass, flotsam, and feathers cemented together with excreta. Nests in colonies.

Nest Placement

Cliff

Behavior


Aerial Dive

Plunge-dives from various heights up to 10-40 meters (33-130 feet). Thrusts wings straight out over back, touching in the middle, just before breaking the water surface.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Northern Gannet populations appear stable in North America. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a continental population of over 155,000 birds, and rates the species a 10 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. They are not listed on the 2014 State of the Birds Report.

Credits

Range Map Help

Northern Gannet Range Map
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