All of Earth’s oceans are home to seabirds—birds that spend most of their lives on water, many only coming on land to lay eggs and raise chicks. Pelicans, skimmers, puffins, albatrosses, terns, gannets, murres, and petrels are all members of this amazing group.
Seabirds have special characteristics—adaptations—that set them apart from land-based birds. These adaptations help them survive all that time in and on the water, including catching their “sea food.” Some dive from the sky to catch their prey. Some swim along the surface to find food, and others hunt by flying low just above the water’s surface. And still others actually “fly” underwater chasing a meal!
Another amazing thing about seabirds is how far some of them migrate, traveling thousands of miles between the places they spend the winter and the places they nest and raise their young. One particular place that attracts millions of seabirds in the summer is Alaska, where there’s plenty of space on the coast for nesting and the oceans and seas are full of fish. But all of North America’s coastlines are home to seabirds at some time during the year, and some seabirds can even be found near large freshwater lakes—especially the Great Lakes in the Midwest—far from any ocean.
Seabirds face a lot of challenges in today’s world. In fact scientists consider them the most threatened group of birds on Earth. The good news is that individuals, communities, and scientists are working hard to protect them in all of their habitats throughout the world. Why are seabirds in so much trouble, and what are people doing to help? Just open your Seabirds: Feathered Ocean Mariners student magazine to find out. There you’ll discover more fascinating facts about these remarkable birds, you’ll learn what a “chickaboom” is, and you’ll find out how you, too, can help protect seabirds and their habitats. And be sure to check out the other parts of this website, where you’ll find fun quizzes and games, videos of birds in the wild, and lots of great information about birds, other wildlife, and the home—Planet Earth—we share with them.
Photos: (top) Jean Hall; Walker Golder.