|1.||(Austral) 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|
|2.||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]|
any of several shearwaters (oceanic bird species), whose chicks are harvested commercially for meat and oil. The species principally utilized are the short-tailed, or slender-billed, shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris), in Australia and Tasmania, and the sooty shearwater (P. griseus), in New Zealand. Certain of the large petrels (Pterodroma species) are also harvested occasionally, as are some fulmars.
Learn more about muttonbird with a free trial on Britannica.com.