Seabirds | Marine Birds

Seabirds are a species of bird that spends most of its life in marine habitats. Some can be found in freshwater environments as well. Seabirds generally live longer, breed later, and have fewer young than other bird species. Seabirds also tend to nest in colonies and have extraordinarily long migrations, sometimes across the equator or around the world. Seabirds typically roam very far out to sea and can spend years at a time out at sea, returning only to nest or hatch young. Seabirds have different adaptations for life at sea, including their plumage which is drab, and dark colored so that they are camouflaged to be protected from predators above and below.

What are the common characteristics of seabirds?

Seabirds are birds adapted to life at sea. They have feathers that are dark on top and lighter underneath. Apart from that, their nostrils are enclosed in tubes, hence can smell food several miles away. However, what makes them easily adapted to sea life is the waterproof feathers, fat layers, and ability to desalinate themselves.

What is the role of seabirds in the ecosystem?

Seabirds shape coastal ecosystems in three distinct ways. They carry marine nutrients from the deep sea to the islands and reefs, drop layers of organic matter at their colonies (fertilizing underdeveloped soil), and disperse seeds. Unfortunately, they are often overlooked and their habitats and food sources are exploited by humans.

Can seabirds swim?

Seabirds are well adapted to life on air, water, and even land. So they can swim, dive, float, and fly. This ability to swim is because they have waterproof feathers, fat layers to keep warm in cold water, and can desalinate themselves. They can also hold their breath underwater for three to ten minutes.

Seabirds Guides
Browse through our curated Seabirds Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of Seabirds. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.
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13.4”-16.7” | 34-42.5 cm
47.2”-61” | 120-155 cm (Wingspan)
20.9”-26” | 53-66 cm
1.3-3.6 lb | .6-1.65 kg
20-32 years
American Herring Gull
42.500
155.000
66.000
1.650
32.00
190
GUIDE
3D
American Herring Gull
5.1”-6.3” | 13-16 cm
25.6”-30.3” | 65-77 cm (Wingspan)
14.2”-16.9” | 36-43 cm
.2-.3 lb | .08-.13 kg
15-34 years
Arctic Tern
16.000
77.000
43.000
0.130
34.00
35400
GUIDE
3D
Arctic Tern
8.7”-9.8” | 22-25 cm
18.5”-24.8” | 47-63 cm (Wingspan)
11”-12.2” | 28-31 cm
.7-1.2 lb | .3-.55 kg
15-36 years
Atlantic Puffin
25.000
63.000
31.000
0.550
36.00
14700
GUIDE
3D
Atlantic Puffin
8.3”-10.4” | 21-26.5 cm
42.1”-50” | 107-127 cm (Wingspan)
15.75”-19.7” | 40-50 cm
.6-.8 lb | .25-.37 kg
5-20 years
Black Skimmer
26.500
127.000
50.000
0.370
20.00
4250
GUIDE
3D
Black Skimmer
16.3”-17.5” | 41.5-44.5 cm
52”-61” | 132-155 cm (Wingspan)
29.5”-31.5” | 75-80 cm
2-4 lb | .9-1.8 kg
20-32 years
Brown Booby
44.500
155.000
80.000
1.800
32.00
2350
GUIDE
3D
Brown Booby
11.8”-14.2” | 30-36 cm
24”-28.7” | 61-73 cm (Wingspan)
15”-17.7” | 38-45 cm
1.7-2.8 lb | .78-1.25 kg
15-41 years
Common Murre
36.000
73.000
45.000
1.250
41.00
5500
GUIDE
3D
Common Murre
19.9”-25.4” | 50.5-64.5 cm
44.9”-48.4” | 114-123 cm (Wingspan)
27.6”-35.4” | 70-90 cm
2.6-5.5 lb | 1.2-2.5 kg
6-22 years
Double-Crested Cormorant
64.500
123.000
90.000
2.500
22.00
300
GUIDE
3D
Double-Crested Cormorant
29.5”-33.5” | 75-85 cm
8.9”-10.8” | 22.5-27.5 cm
35.4”-40.9” | 90-104 cm
11-15.4 lb | 5-7 kg
20-25 years
Great Auk
85.000
27.500
104.000
7.000
25.00
25600
GUIDE
3D
Great Auk
13.4”-15.2” | 34-38.5 cm
49.2”-55.1” | 125-140 cm (Wingspan)
20.9”-22.8” | 53-58 cm
2.6-4.4 lb | 1.2-2 kg
22-36 years
Great Skua
38.500
140.000
58.000
2.000
36.00
2500
GUIDE
3D
Great Skua
12.2”-15.75” | 31-40 cm
85.4”-96” | 217-244 cm (Wingspan)
35”-44.9” | 89-114 cm
2.2-4.2 lb | 1-1.9 kg
10-22 years
Magnificent Frigatebird
40.000
244.000
114.000
1.900
22.00
6100
GUIDE
3D
Magnificent Frigatebird
12.4”-15.75” | 31.5-40 cm
40.2”-44.1” | 102-112 cm (Wingspan)
15.4”-19.7” | 39-50 cm
1-2.2 lb | .45-1 kg
30-60 years
Northern Fulmar
40.000
112.000
50.000
1.000
60.00
1350
GUIDE
3D
Northern Fulmar
21.1”-23.8” | 53.5-60.5 cm
65”-70.9” | 165-180 cm (Wingspan)
34.25”-39.4” | 87-100 cm
4.9-7.9 lb | 2.2-3.6 kg
15-37 years
Northern Gannet
60.500
180.000
100.000
3.600
37.00
6000
GUIDE
3D
Northern Gannet
8.7”-10.2” | 22-26 cm
39”-41.7” | 99-106 cm (Wingspan)
17.3”-20.1” | 44-51 cm
.9-1.7 lb | .4-.75 kg
10-30 years
Red-Billed Tropicbird
26.000
106.000
51.000
0.750
30.00
650
GUIDE
3D
Red-Billed Tropicbird
12.2”-15.2” | 31-38.5 cm
41”-50” | 104-127 cm (Wingspan)
16.9”-21.25” | 43-54 cm
.7-1.5 lb | .3-.7 kg
10-25 years
Ring-Billed Gull
38.500
127.000
54.000
0.700
25.00
550
GUIDE
3D
Ring-Billed Gull
10.2”-13.4” | 26-34 cm
37”-43.3” | 94-110 cm (Wingspan)
15.75”-20.1” | 40-51 cm
1.4-2.2 lb | .65-1 kg
20-40 years
Sooty Shearwater
34.000
110.000
51.000
1.000
40.00
2240
GUIDE
3D
Sooty Shearwater
17.7”-20.9” | 45-53 cm
59”-82.7” | 150-210 cm (Wingspan)
31.5”-39” | 80-99 cm
6.6-18.7 lb | 3-8.5 kg
15-30 years
Southern Giant Petrel
53.000
210.000
99.000
8.500
30.00
3450
GUIDE
3D
Southern Giant Petrel
9.8”-11.4” | 25-29 cm
24.8”-29.1” | 63-74 cm (Wingspan)
13.8”-15.75” | 35-40 cm
1.5-1.9 lb | .7-.9 kg
15-25 years
Tufted Puffin
29.000
74.000
40.000
0.900
25.00
5100
GUIDE
3D
Tufted Puffin
39.4”-49.6” | 100-126 cm
98”-138” | 250–350 cm (Wingspan)
42.1”-53.1” | 107-135 cm
13-28 lb | 5.9-12.7 kg
50-80 years
Wandering Albatross
126.000
350.000
135.000
12.700
80.00
36250
GUIDE
3D
Wandering Albatross
Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica)
Scale illustration of an average Atlantic Puffin compared to other seabird species

The Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) also referred to as the common puffin is a seabird with similar coloring to a penguin. Atlantic puffins have a colorful beak that has given them the nickname, ”Sea Parrot”. They are native to the Atlantic Ocean as their name suggests and can be found in Iceland, Norway, Greenland, Newfoundland, and the Faroe Islands. Atlantic puffins live in coastal, offshore waters, and open seas. They spend most of their time on the sea and can dive up to 200 ft. Atlantic Puffin’s eat fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and marine worms. The Atlantic puffin is considered vulnerable to extinction.

The Atlantic Puffin has a wingspan in the range of 18.5”-24.8” (47-63 cm) and total weight of .7-1.2 lb (.3-.55 kg). The body of the Atlantic Puffin has an overall length between 11”-12.2” (28-31 cm), body width of 3.7”-4.3” (9.5-11 cm), and standing height of roughly 8.7”-9.8” (22-25 cm). The typical lifespan of the Atlantic Puffin is between 15-36 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Atlantic Puffin
The Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica) also referred to as the common puffin is a seabird with similar coloring to a penguin. Atlantic puffins have a colorful beak that has given them the nickname, ”Sea Parrot”. They are native to the Atlantic Ocean as their name suggests.

The Atlantic Puffin has a wingspan in the range of 18.5”-24.8” (47-63 cm) and total weight of .7-1.2 lb (.3-.55 kg). The body of the Atlantic Puffin has an overall length between 11”-12.2” (28-31 cm), body width of 3.7”-4.3” (9.5-11 cm), and standing height of roughly 8.7”-9.8” (22-25 cm). The typical lifespan of the Atlantic Puffin is between 15-36 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Atlantic Puffin
Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica)
Height:
8.7”-9.8” | 22-25 cm
Width:
18.5”-24.8” | 47-63 cm (Wingspan)
Length:
11”-12.2” | 28-31 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.7-1.2 lb | .3-.55 kg
Area:

Body Width: 3.7”-4.3” | 9.5-11 cm

Scientific Name
Fratercula arctica
Lifespan
15-36 years

Drawings include:

Atlantic Puffin side view, front, flying (assorted)

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Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)
Comparison drawing of the Magnificent Frigatebird compared to other seabirds

The Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) is the largest species of all frigatebirds. Male magnificent frigatebirds are all-black with a scarlet throat pouch that inflates during the breeding season. Female magnificent frigatebirds are also black, but have a white breast and no neck pouch. Both male and females have brown banding on their wings. Magnificent frigatebirds are found throughout the tropical region of the Atlantic Ocean, but can also be seen in the Pacific coasts of North and South America. Magnificent frigatebirds eat fish, squid, jellyfish, and crustaceans. They are not in danger of extinction and are currently listed as least concern.

The Magnificent Frigatebird has a wingspan in the range of 85.4”-96” (217-244 cm) and total weight of 2.2-4.2 lb (1-1.9 kg). The body of the Magnificent Frigatebird has an overall length between 35”-44.9” (89-114 cm), body width of 7.5”-9.4” (19-24 cm), and standing height of roughly 12.2”-15.75” (31-40 cm). The typical lifespan of the Magnificent Frigatebird is between 10-22 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the Magnificent Frigatebird
The Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) is the largest species of all frigatebirds. Male magnificent frigatebirds are all-black with a scarlet throat pouch that inflates during the breeding season. Female magnificent frigatebirds are also black, but have a white breast and no neck pouch.

The Magnificent Frigatebird has a wingspan in the range of 85.4”-96” (217-244 cm) and total weight of 2.2-4.2 lb (1-1.9 kg). The body of the Magnificent Frigatebird has an overall length between 35”-44.9” (89-114 cm), body width of 7.5”-9.4” (19-24 cm), and standing height of roughly 12.2”-15.75” (31-40 cm). The typical lifespan of the Magnificent Frigatebird is between 10-22 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the Magnificent Frigatebird
Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)
Height:
12.2”-15.75” | 31-40 cm
Width:
85.4”-96” | 217-244 cm (Wingspan)
Length:
35”-44.9” | 89-114 cm
Depth:
Weight:
2.2-4.2 lb | 1-1.9 kg
Area:

Body Width: 7.5”-9.4” | 19-24 cm

Scientific Name
Fregata magnificens
Lifespan
10-22 years

Drawings include:

Magnificent Frigatebird side view, front, flying (assorted)

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Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)
Scale illustration of an average Northern Fulmar compared to other seabird species

The Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) also known as the fulmar, is a seabird with gray and white feathers and pale-yellow bill. They have a limited walking ability, but strong flying skills. Northern fulmars are native to the subarctic regions of the North Atlantic, Arctic, and North Pacific Oceans. Northern fulmars live in the open ocean and breed on open sea cliffs. Their diets are made up of crustaceans, fish, small squid, marine worms, and carrion. They are able to dive up to 10 ft (3 m) underwater. Northern fulmars are not considered to be in danger of extinction and are listed as least concern.

The Northern Fulmar has a wingspan in the range of 40.2”-44.1” (102-112 cm) and total weight of 1-2.2 lb (.45-1 kg). The body of the Northern Fulmar has an overall length between 15.4”-19.7” (39-50 cm), body width of 5.1”-6.7” (13-17 cm), and standing height of roughly 12.4”-15.75” (31.5-40 cm). The typical lifespan of the Northern Fulmar is between 30-60 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Northern Fulmar
The Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) also known as the fulmar, is a seabird with gray and white feathers and pale-yellow bill. They have a limited walking ability, but strong flying skills. Northern fulmars are native to the subarctic regions of the North Atlantic, Arctic, and North Pacific.

The Northern Fulmar has a wingspan in the range of 40.2”-44.1” (102-112 cm) and total weight of 1-2.2 lb (.45-1 kg). The body of the Northern Fulmar has an overall length between 15.4”-19.7” (39-50 cm), body width of 5.1”-6.7” (13-17 cm), and standing height of roughly 12.4”-15.75” (31.5-40 cm). The typical lifespan of the Northern Fulmar is between 30-60 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Northern Fulmar
Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)
Height:
12.4”-15.75” | 31.5-40 cm
Width:
40.2”-44.1” | 102-112 cm (Wingspan)
Length:
15.4”-19.7” | 39-50 cm
Depth:
Weight:
1-2.2 lb | .45-1 kg
Area:

Body Width: 5.1”-6.7” | 13-17 cm

Scientific Name
Fulmarus glacialis
Lifespan
30-60 years

Drawings include:

Northern Fulmar side view, front, flying (assorted)

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Great Skua (Stercorarius skua)
Scale illustration of an average Great Skua compared to other seabird species

The Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) is a seabird with a gray-brown plumage, short tail, and is about the size of a herring gull. Great skuas are native to the North Atlantic Ocean and can mainly be found Iceland and in the islands north of England. The diet of the great skuas mainly consists of fish, birds, and carrion. They may also eat insects and small mammals that are no bigger than a rabbit. Great skuas like to nest on the treeless islands with little vegetation. Great skuas are not in danger of extinction and are listed as least concern.

The Great Skua has a wingspan in the range of 49.2”-55.1” (125-140 cm) and total weight of 2.6-4.4 lb (1.2-2 kg). The body of the Great Skua has an overall length between 20.9”-22.8” (53-58 cm), body width of 7.5”-8.3” (19-21 cm), and standing height of roughly 13.4”-15.2” (34-38.5 cm). The typical lifespan of the Great Skua is between 22-36 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Great Skua
The Great Skua (Stercorarius skua) is a seabird with a gray-brown plumage, short tail, and is about the size of a herring gull. Great skuas are native to the North Atlantic Ocean and can mainly be found Iceland and in the islands north of England. The diet of the great skuas mainly consists of fish.

The Great Skua has a wingspan in the range of 49.2”-55.1” (125-140 cm) and total weight of 2.6-4.4 lb (1.2-2 kg). The body of the Great Skua has an overall length between 20.9”-22.8” (53-58 cm), body width of 7.5”-8.3” (19-21 cm), and standing height of roughly 13.4”-15.2” (34-38.5 cm). The typical lifespan of the Great Skua is between 22-36 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Great Skua
Great Skua (Stercorarius skua)
Height:
13.4”-15.2” | 34-38.5 cm
Width:
49.2”-55.1” | 125-140 cm (Wingspan)
Length:
20.9”-22.8” | 53-58 cm
Depth:
Weight:
2.6-4.4 lb | 1.2-2 kg
Area:

Body Width: 7.5”-8.3” | 19-21 cm

Scientific Name
Stercorarius skua
Lifespan
22-36 years

Drawings include:

Great Skua side view, front, flying (assorted)

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Red-Billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus)
Comparison drawing of the Red-Billed Tropicbird  compared to other seabirds

The Red-Billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus) is a seabird with mostly white plumage and black markings. Red-billed tropicbirds have a red-bill as their name suggests and tail streamers that are about 2 times their body length. They can be found across the Tropical Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They prefer warm open waters far from the shore and can breed in Pacific Mexico or the Caribbean. Red-billed tropic birds typically eat small fish and squid. They prey mostly by diving into the water from the air. They are not considered in danger of extinction and are listed as least concern.

The Red-Billed Tropicbird has a wingspan in the range of 39”-41.7” (99-106 cm) and total weight of .9-1.7 lb (.4-.75 kg). The body of the Red-Billed Tropicbird has an overall length between 17.3”-20.1” (44-51 cm), body width of 4.7”-5.7” (12-14.5 cm), and standing height of roughly 8.7”-10.2” (22-26 cm). The typical lifespan of the Red-Billed Tropicbird is between 10-30 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the Red-Billed Tropicbird
The Red-Billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus) is a seabird with mostly white plumage and black markings. Red-billed tropicbirds have a red-bill as their name suggests and tail streamers that are about 2 times their body length. They can be found on the Tropical Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.

The Red-Billed Tropicbird has a wingspan in the range of 39”-41.7” (99-106 cm) and total weight of .9-1.7 lb (.4-.75 kg). The body of the Red-Billed Tropicbird has an overall length between 17.3”-20.1” (44-51 cm), body width of 4.7”-5.7” (12-14.5 cm), and standing height of roughly 8.7”-10.2” (22-26 cm). The typical lifespan of the Red-Billed Tropicbird is between 10-30 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the Red-Billed Tropicbird
Red-Billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus)
Height:
8.7”-10.2” | 22-26 cm
Width:
39”-41.7” | 99-106 cm (Wingspan)
Length:
17.3”-20.1” | 44-51 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.9-1.7 lb | .4-.75 kg
Area:

Body Width: 4.7”-5.7” | 12-14.5 cm

Scientific Name
Phaethon aethereus
Lifespan
10-30 years

Drawings include:

Red-Billed Tropicbird side view, front, flying (assorted)

Details & Downloads

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