Morus serrator (Australian gannet)

Australiese malgas [Afrikaans]; Australische jan-van-gent [Dutch]; Fou austral [French]; Australtölpel [German]; Alcatraz-australiano [Portuguese]

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Morus serrator (Australian gannet)  

Australian gannet, Muriwai gannet colony, North Island, New Zealand. [photo Alex Skene ©]

 

Distribution and habitat

It breeds on islands around New Zealand and Australia, while after the breeding season it disperses across the Tasman Sea and Australian coast, sometimes travelling across the Indian Ocean to Africa. It is generally rare in southern Africa, although it is increasingly commonly reported in the Cape gannet colonies scattered across the southern African coastline, where it may even breed. Its head is more orange and its call is louder than the Cape gannet, but it is much harder to identify at sea than at colonies, where it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of Macronectes giganteus (Southern giant-petrel).

Movements and migrations

Adults remain quite close to their colony, while juveniles and immature birds move more freely. It usually doesn't breed in southern Africa, however it may build nests and display to Cape gannets. It has also been recorded to preen Cape gannet chicks, and may even mate with adults and produce hybrid chicks.

Food 

It mainly eats schooling fish, such as sardines (Sardinops sagax) and anchovies (Engraulis australis), caught by plunge-diving from about 20 metres above the sea. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

It usually doesn't breed in southern Africa, however it may build nests and display to Cape gannets. It has also been recorded to preen Cape gannet chicks, and may even mate with adults and produce hybrid chicks. 

Threats

Not threatened, although some of its colonies have disappeared, its total population still increased in the 20th century.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 

 

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