The Northern Fulmar – an Atlantic Seabird

Upon first sight, a sitting Northern Fulmar might look like an ordinary large gull and might be confused with the Herring Gull. Though, only upon first sight. Upon a closer look we will see the crystal white head, dark-blue wings and a massive bill. It is the bill that finally provides clarity on the real identity of the bird. A fulmar has a strange looking tube-nosed bill, which is why the entire group is also called “tube noses”.

northern fulmar at nest
Northern Fulmar Breeding Pair

Bird Facts: Northern Fulmar

Order: Procellariiformes
Family: Procellariidae
Genus: Fulmarus
Species: Northern Fulmar

Scientific Name: Fulmarus glacialis

Names and Synomyms of the Northern Fulmar

German: Eissturmvogel
Czech: Buřňák lední
Slovak: Fulmar l’adový
French: Fulmar boréal
Spanish: Fulmar Boreal
Portuguese: Fulmar-glacial
Dutch: Noordse Stormvogel
Italian: Fulmaro
Iceland: Fýll
Greenland: Qaqulluk
Faroer: Havhestur, Náti
Finish: Myrskylintu
Danish: Mallemuk
Swedish: Stormfågel
Polish: Fulmar

northern fulmar on cliff ledge
Northern Fulmar

Distribution – Movements – Habitat – Behaviour – Voice

Distribution: The Northern Fulmar is a bird of the North Atlantic and the North Pacific; colonial breeder – mainly in large colonies. The southernmost colonly is on the German island of Heligoland in the German Bight (North Sea). More colonies of the Northern Fulmar are on the British Isles, Norway (Runde Island, Lofoten achripelago); Iceland, Faroe Islands, Svalbard, Franz-Joseph Island, Nowaja Semlja, east and west coast of Greenland, New Foundland and the Canadian arctic islands; East Siberia.

Movements: The juveniles of the Northern Fulmar are mostly migrational. Only rarely they appear in the Baltics and the Mediterranean. Usually movements reach southwards to 43° N. Arctic breeders leave the breeding areas between November and February to move down south.

Habitat: Most of the time, Northern Fulmar live out on the ocean and return to land only for breeding.

Behaviour: Activity both diurnal and nocturnal, depending on availabilty of food. While breeding in colony, the Fulmar is mostly diurnal. Food is picked up from the water surface.

Voice: Mostly silent, especially when sitting on the nest. In colony usually cackling, chattering and purring sounds.


Size: 45-50 cm
♂: 760-1000 g, Ø c. 835 g
♀: 610-855 g, Ø c. 700 g
Wingspan: 102-112 cm
♂: 324-346 mm
♀: 309-337 mm


Maturity: First breeding usually between 6th-12th year
Mating Season: Monogamous breeding pair. Mating usually takes place after arriving at the breeding area.

Nest: Fulmars nest in shallow scrapes on cliff ledges and outpcrops, usually close to the shoreline but also in vegetation.

Clutch: mainly one egg, larger clutches are from two females
Eggs: oval egg with white shell

Egg Measurements

Length: 65.5-81.5 mm
Width: 43.2-51.1 mm
Ø: 74.0×54.1 mm
Egg Weight: 98-104 g
Shell Weight: 7.8-10.1 g; Ø = 8.5 g

Incubation to Fledging

Recurrent Clutch: no recorded data available.
Incubation: 46-51 days, mainly between 52-53 days, both parents share the task of incubating.

Hatching: Most Juveniles hatch between end of June to end of July.

Fledging: The chicken is watched over by one parent for the first two weeks, fledges after 46-51 days.

northern fulmar breeding pair on cliff ledge
Northern Fulmar


Food: Fulmars feed on molluks, fish, planktonic crustaceans, medusa, rubbish from ships, carrion, guts of dead fish, oil and fat.

Longevity: The oldest known ringed bird of a Fulmar reached an age of 43 years and 10 months.

Mortality: adult birds of the Fulmar have an approximate survival rate of 97% per annum.

Threats to Fulmars: Lack of food, overfishing of sandeels in the North Sea, marine pollution by oil and rubbish, egg collection, where still permitted.

northern fulmar
Northern Fulmar

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