- any of several long-winged seabirds, often used as food, especially Puffinus tenuirostris (short-tailed shearwater) of Australia and Puffinus griseus (sooty shearwater), which breeds in the Southern Hemisphere and winters in the Northern Hemisphere.
Origin of mutton bird
First recorded in 1840–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- Australian any of several shearwaters, having a dark plumage with greyish underparts, esp the sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) of New Zealand, which is collected for food by Māoris. It inhabits the Pacific Ocean and in summer nests in Australia and New Zealand
- any of various petrels esp the short tailed shearwater, Puffinus tenuirostris, which inhabits the Pacific Ocean and in summer nests in S Australia
C19: so named because their cooked flesh is claimed to taste like mutton