The Pink-footed Shearwater is the largest of the shearwaters seen off the Pacific Coast and it may be solitary or with other types of birds. It usually nests in South America and then migrates north along the coast of the US and Canada during the summer months. It is a polymorphic bird and you will see both dark and lighter colored birds.
The Short-tailed Shearwater is a pelagic bird mostly found offshore Vancouver Island during winter months except for rare breading time. It prefers to stay close to other shearwaters and at times there can be many in one area. The Short-tailed Shearwater is not as common as the Sooty Shearwater off Vancouver Island and it is more common to see it in New Zealand and Australia than Vancouver Island. Like other Shearwaters, The Short-tailed Shearwater can be mistaken for a gull while swimming, but it has a much different flight pattern never flying in a straight line but rather twisting and turning and going up and down as it travels along. Its diet is mostly baitfish and amphipods including herring, pilchards, octopus and shrimp.
The Sooty Shearwater is one of most common birds offshore from the west coast of Vancouver Island and is often mistaken for a gull. Besides appearance it has very little in common. It likes the cold offshore water and will also hangout where the cold and warmer waters meet. It does little dives and dips as it flies along twisting and turning to and fro as it goes while keeping an eye out for food. It breeds mostly in the southern hemisphere. In Australia and New Zealand the Sooty can be someone’s meal, but on the west coast of North America they are protected.