Cape Gannet

Morus capensis - Fou du Cap

Systematics
  • Order 
    :

    Suliformes

  • Family
    :

    Sulidés

  • Genus
    :

    Morus

  • Species
    :

    capensis

Descriptor

Lichtenstein, MHC, 1823

Biometrics
  • Size
    : 90 cm
  • Wingspan
    : 160 à 175 cm.
  • Weight
    :
Geographic range

Distribution

Description identification

Fou du Cap
adult plum. breeding
Fou du Cap
adult

This is the Cape Gannet, a large black and white (adults), brown (juveniles) or patterned black, white and brown (immatures) seabird. Adults have an orange head and a greyish beak. It can be mistaken for the Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus), which can be distinguished by the secondary remiges (large feathers at the back of the wing) and the black rather than white rectrices. The differences with the Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator) are much more subtle, with the Australasian Gannet having a shorter, descending black line from the beak to the throat, and the outer rectrices being white.

Subspecific information monotypic species

Foreign names

  • Fou du Cap,
  • Alcatraz de El Cabo,
  • alcatraz-do-cabo,
  • Kaptölpel,
  • fokföldi szula,
  • Kaapse Jan-van-gent,
  • Sula del Capo,
  • kapsula,
  • Kappsule,
  • sula tmavochvostá,
  • terej jihoafrický,
  • Kapsule,
  • kapinsuula,
  • Witmalgas,
  • mascarell del Cap,
  • Höfðasúla,
  • głuptak przylądkowy,
  • Kāpzemes sulla,
  • kapski strmoglavec,
  • Капская олуша,
  • ケープシロカツオドリ,
  • 南非鲣鸟,
  • 南非鰹鳥,

Voice song and cries

Fou du Cap
adult plum. breeding

The Cape Gannet cries mostly at the colony, but also while feeding in groups. Its typical cry is very similar to that of the gannet. It is a repeated, loud, discordant, and guttural 'urrah'.

Habitat

Fou du Cap
adult

Strictly a seabird; never seen far from the coasts. Endemic species of Southern Africa, breeding only in South Africa and Namibia.

Behaviour character trait

Fou du Cap
adult plum. breeding

The Cape Gannet is very social on breeding sites and adults are rarely seen straying far from these sites. The juveniles disperse as far as the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic coast and Mozambique on the Indian coast, with some even being observed in Australia. It is very rare to see them on the coasts of Europe (Portugal and Spain) and it has never been seen in France.

Flight

Fou du Cap
adult plum. post breeding

Few flaps of the wings. Long glides, close to the water or high in the sky depending on the weather conditions. Fishing by plunging, wings folded, from several tens of metres.

Dietfeeding habits

Fou du Cap
adult

Only piscivorous. The main prey are sardines and anchovies.

Reproduction nesting

Fou du Cap
adult

Compact colonies established on mostly flat islands. The global population is distributed over only 6 islands. The nest is made up of debris collected from the sea and agglomerated by the droppings of the birds. Lays only one egg which is incubated for a month and a half. The chicks take flight after more than 3 months. Adults at 3 or 4 years old.

Geographic range

Threats - protection

Fou du Cap
adult
IUCN conservation status
Extinct
Threatened
Least
concern
Extinc
in the Wild
Near
threatened
Not
evaluated
EX EW CR EN VU NT LC NE

The population ranges from 80,000 to 100,000 couples. After a severe decline, it is now slowly increasing. Long hunted for human consumption (which is no longer the case), it has suffered severe disturbance due to guano exploitation. Overfishing, which leads to a sharp decrease in prey, is also a problem that could prove to be crucial in the coming years. The main predator is the Cape Fur Seal (Arctocephalus pusillus), which captures young birds in colonies, sometimes leading to their abandonment.

Sources of information

Other sources of interest

QRcode Fou du CapSpecification sheet created on 29/07/2023 by
Translation by AI Oiseaux.net
published: - Updated: 24-07-2005
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