Northern Gannet

General description.

The Northern Gannet is the largest "pelagic bird" (stays at sea and seen from shore) of the North Atlantic. The Gannet's heavy body appears tapered with pointed tail and pointed bill, which is long and serrated. With binocular vision, the Northern Gannet, can soar, fold his wings and plunge 160' for his seafood dinner. This is possible due to the protection of a shock absorbing cellular structure beneath the skin, closed nostrils and strengthened skeleton.

Juvenile appearance.

Gray-brown with white speckles. It takes juveniles three to four years to assume adult plumage.

Flight pattern.

Several flaps followed by a long glide.

Breeding habits.

Northern Gannets breed on the rocky cliffs of the Canadian Maritimes in large colonies of thousands of nesting couples. Their nests are one yard apart. The close proximity of these nests make them easy to defend against preditors.

Calls or song.

Gannets vocalize by a variety of sounds from a very nasal, harsh and rasping call to grunts and moans.

Population and distribution.

Found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. The Gannet winters in the sub-tropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Nesting habits.

The Northern Gannet makes its nest in the depressions of cliff rocks rimmed with droppings. They lay 1-3 eggs, which they incubate with their feet. On the average, only one chick usually hatches successfully.
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