Blogue Bird

The Northern Gannet

The Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) is a seabird species of the Sulid family that has nine species living mainly in the tropics. Its Latin name, from which its French name derives, means «madman of the island of Bass», an island located near the eastern coasts of Scotland, which is home to the largest colony in the world.

The Northern Gannet is a large seabird, one of the largest in the North Atlantic. It has long white wings, marked with black at the ends, almost entirely white plumage and a yellowish head. Its eyes are blue encircled in grey. Its bill is grey-blue, almost white, like a lance, is drawn with fine black lines. Adult, it weighs just over 3 kg and can reach up to 100 cm in length.

Before the age of 4 or 5, the Northern Gannet has a brown plumage with white spots.

In moderate wind, the Northern Gannet has a flight with powerful and regular beats, but in strong wind, he hovers and lets himself slip in the air. It can cover a distance of at least 450 kilometres per day. Very powerful, and agile in flight, it is however rather awkward at takeoff and landing.

On the other hand, the Northern Gannet is spectacular, because it dives from the air, often from a height of 20 to 30 meters in the sea, in pursuit of the fish. In the summer, it eats mackerel, herring and capelin. Little is known about its winter diet.

Nesting colonies are located on the cliffs of the North Sea; one on Bonaventure Island in Quebec has become a famous tourist destination.