Fulmars - Hebridean Birds
Western Isles Birds Sightings - Fulmars - Hebridean Birds - Western Isles Birds.

The Fulmars look like gulls but their grey wings have pale patches in the primaries and are always held stiffly, either horizontally or slightly bowed.

The whiteness of their bodies and relative thickness of their head gives them the nickname of 'flying milk bottle'
        Fulmar -  Photo Gallery
Fulmar in flight -  Western Isles
Photo Gallery  - Fulmar Images
Bird Overview - Fulmar
Petrels and shearwaters
Latin name
Fulmarus glacialis


Similar Species
Herring Gull
Medium-sized seabird; gull-sized. Shaped like a gull, this bird glides like a shearwater. It has moderately long rounded wings - a short, stout pale bill - superficially resembles a herring gull, but the head and neck are thicker.

The bird is mainly white with silver grey upperparts, a pale grey rump and tail. They range in colour from dark blue-grey to a ghostly white, and have a yellowish bill At first glance the fulmars resemble gulls - they are a similar size and basically having grey and white plumage.

The way these birds fly though tells us that they are not gulls. Instead of the gulls languid movements the Fulmars wings are held rigidly out and the wings give quick flaps then long stiff winged glides. The long narrow wings enable the fulmar to fly great distances..

45-50 cm - 750g
These birds can be seen on sea coasts, moorlands, fields and rivers. The birds in the Western Isles breed in varied places - sand dunes, shingle banks also frequently inland on moorland

Fulmars eat a variety of sea animals - squid, jellyfish, dead fish,crustaceans and marine worms
Cackling and grunting noises.
Fulmars breed in great numbers on the highest cliff-faces, sometimes with other cliff-nesting species.

To defend their nest, fulmars launch an evil-smelling stream of stomach oils from their throats. Breeding season begins in May. The single white egg - laid not in a nest, but more or less directly on the rock face, or earthy ground

The egg is incubated for 47–53 days ( a really long time) the female starts and then has a week off to recuperate from egg laying. The chick is brooded for 2 weeks; fledging after 46–53 days. Nests on cliff ledges and on level ground, and has expanded to buildings and rooftops.

Misc. Info
These birds are one of the few seabirds whose population since the 1800's has been rising - largely due to the fact that they eat food or fish that the commercial fishing boats toss back into the sea. Fulmars sometimes do not breed until perhaps they are 12 years old. These birds can actually reach and age of 50 or more.

Grey Tail - Swim Buoyantly
No other British gull has a grey tail. Fulmars swim buoyantly and may spend much of the day resting on the water. They feed from the surface and also occasionally by shallow plunge diving.

Like Gales - Mini Albatross
The stronger the wind the more the fulmar seems to enjoy it. Some people call it a "mini albatross".

Fulmars Bill
The stout hooked bill of the fulmar is made up of several plates, topped with a prominent pair of nostril tubes. The dark patch of modified bristly feathers in front pf the eye may perhaps help reduce glare.

Fulmar Oil
Fulmar Oil is a foul smelling liquid. It is ejected by adults and young a a form of defence - however it is also used - mixed with regurgitated food or feeding the young birds. It is rich in Vitamin A & D. The smell of fulmars is said to stay on oil-stained clothing for many years.

St Kilda
The fulmars played an important role in the lives of the people who lived on the tiny islands of St Kilda. The St Kildans ate the birds. They also used their oil for burning in oil lamps. The fulmar oil was also used for medicinal purposes, rubbing it into tired muscles. They paid their rent in fulmar feathers and used their wings as a kind of brush to sweep up the ashes from the fire.

St Kilda was the first known nesting site for this seabird in the UK. It holds a huge population with over 64,000 pairs.
Fulmar Among the Thrift - Western Isles
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