Townsend’s Shearwater

Central America


Puffinus auricularis

Critically Endangered

Invasive species represent the greatest combined threat to this species. Other threats include volcanic eruptions

Townsend's shearwater (Puffinus auricularis) is a rare seabird of the tropics from the family Procellariidae. This species breeds around Cerro Evermann on Isla Socorro in the Revillagigedo Islands, Mexico, though formerly present on Clarion Island and San Benedicto. The main threat to this species comes from feral cats introduced to Socorro in the early 1970s. These cats usually prey on shearwaters immediately after landing, where a lack of understory renders them exposed. Sheep and goats are also destroying breeding habitat. The Isla Clarión was eradicated in 1988, when habitat and nesting sites were destroyed by introduced pigs, sheep and rabbits, the final of which competed against the shearwaters for nesting burrows. Despite this, some breeding habitat remains to the north and north-west of Socorro's summit, where introduced animals have yet to ravage. The current mature population is estimated between 249-999 birds. Due to the presence of these threats, it has been classified as critically endangered. Further threat is posed by light pollution from a recently constructed airstrip and possible volcanic eruptions, the latter eradicated the San Benedicto population. Sheep and pigs have since been eradicated from Clarion, though rabbits have yet to follow. On Socorro, sheep eradication is currently in progress.