Yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan)

The Yelkouan shearwater, Levantine shearwater or Mediterranean shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) (Greek: Μύχος - Michos) is a medium-sized shearwater in the seabird family Procellariidae.


Yelkouan shearwater resembles Scopoli's shearwater in appearance. It is, however, smaller, with less aerodynamic shape, much darker on top and with a thinner and blacker beak. It flies between the waves keeping the wings completely straight in a straight line, reminiscent of a cross. He has a more nervous flight, without the grandeur of Scopoli's shearwater.


Yelkouan shearwater feeds on small fish. It dives much more than Artemis and travels considerable distances underwater where it moves using its wings in an underwater flight like penguins. This makes Yelkouan shearwater stand out from all the other diving birds in Greece that use exclusively their feet for underwater promotion. Like Scopoli's shearwater, Yelkouan shearwater exploits the dolphins to squeeze the fish.

Unlike Scopoli's shearwater, however, we will not see Yelkouan shearwater flying behind the ships of the line. The strongest Scopoli's shearwater and the ruthless and greedy Silver Gulls do not let him look for food next to them. Sometimes Yelkouan shearwater tries to approach the fishing boats to feed on the fish that are being thrown, but even there there is a very fierce competition between the seabirds.

In Greece, Yelkouan shearwater nests on islets mainly in the central and northern Aegean. Its exact distribution is not well known and few large colonies are known.

In Thassos you can see them in the spring (sometimes in large flocks of thousands of birds) and in small numbers throughout the summer.

It nests early and the adults are in the nests from winter. They visit the nest at night.

At the end of the reproduction, thousands of Yelkouan shearwater leave the Aegean and cross the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus to enter to the Black Sea. There they roam around the shores chasing foam fish. They return to the Aegean in October. Other remain in Greek waters all year round. Maybe they visit us from other parts of the Mediterranean. Unfortunately we know very little about the movements and the ecology of the species.