Puffinus assimilis lherminieri Lesson, 1839
Puffinus atrodorsalis Shirihai, Sinclair and Colston, 1995
Puffinus bailloni (Bonaparte, 1857) (disputed)
Puffinus bannermani Mathews & Iredale, 1915 (but see text)
Puffinus baroli (Bonaparte, 1857) (disputed)
Puffinus persicus Hume, 1872 (disputed)
Pufflnus lherminieri Lesson, 1839 (lapsus)
and see text
The Audubon's shearwater (Puffinus lherminieri) is a common tropical seabird in the petrel family. Sometimes known as the dusky-backed shearwater, the specific epithet honours the French naturalist Félix Louis L'Herminier.
Certain populations are known variously as Baillon's shearwater, tropical shearwater, Bannerman's shearwater, Mascarene shearwater and Persian shearwater; some of these are considered distinct species by various authors. If they are all placed in P. lherminieri, the North Atlantic little shearwater (otherwise often separated as P. baroli) is generally included here too. Thus, these small shearwaters form a cryptic species complex.
Audubon's shearwaters are on average 30 cm (12 in) in length—about half the size of the greater shearwater (Puffinus gravis)—and weigh 170 g. There is some variation between populations, and the normal size and weight range is 30–33 cm (12–13 in) and 150–230 g (5.3–8.1 oz). The wingspan is 64–72 cm, the tail is around 8.5 cm long, the exposed culmen measures 3 cm or slightly less, and the tarsus is around 4 cm in length. In general appearance, it is a small shearwater, black above and white below and hard to distinguish from its relatives at first glance.
The upperparts, rectrices and undertail coverts are blackish-brown, as are at least the distal undersides of the remiges, but sometimes the entire feathers. The rest of the underparts are white, as is the head below eye level. The iris is dark, the feet are dull pink with a black wash and black toenails, and the bill is grey, darker towards the tip, and with a pinkish hue.