©Mike Snelle


Scientific name: Fulmarus glacialis
Related to the massive albatross, the fulmar is a gull-like bird that nests on rocky cliff edges. Don't get too close, though - it spits a foul-smelling oil at intruders.

Species information


Length: 44-50cm
Wingspan: 1-1.2m
Weight: 610-1000g
Average lifespan: 44 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2021).

When to see

January to December


Fulmars are members of a group of birds known as 'tubenoses', or 'petrels', which includes both giant albatrosses and tiny storm petrels. In the 1800s, fulmars only nested in one or two places on islands in the far north of Scotland. Since then, they have expanded their range and can be found around the UK's coast, nesting in colonies on cliffs or flocking to feed out at sea.

How to identify

The fulmar looks similar to a gull, but with straighter, stiffer wings and a thickset neck. It has a white head and underside, grey wings and grey-yellow beak.


Nests around the coasts of the UK.

Did you know?

If threatened, nesting fulmars will spit a foul-smelling oily mixture on to intruders. In the 1900s, this oil was considered valuable for its medicinal properties, so fulmars were harvested by the inhabitants of the islands they visited.