Definition of mutton bird in English:

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mutton bird


A shearwater or petrel of the southern oceans.
  • Family Procellariidae: several species, in particular (in Australia) the short-tailed shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris), and (in New Zealand) the sooty shearwater (P. griseus).
Example sentences
  • Also known as mutton birds, the shearwaters usually travel past the west coast of Ireland before crossing the Atlantic to nest in their native Tierra Del Fuego during mid December.
  • The Maori cuisine is based on seafood, mutton birds (young petrels), wild pork or fowl, fat lamb, and kumara.
  • Similarly, we have the example of the mutton birds in the Titi Islands.


Early 19th century: because when cooked, the flesh of some species resembles mutton in flavour.

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