A muttonbird is, to be precise, a sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus). Globally, this is a highly populous species of seabird. It nests on cliffs, generally on small islands. More generally, the term may, historically, have been applied to a number of species which were taken by sailors to restock their ship's larder.

It is legal for certain tribes of Maori to "collect" the young of the muttonbird and approximately a quarter of a million squabs are taken each year from islands around the south of New Zealand (principally in the Foveaux Strait). The parents go to sea a week or so before the young bird takes flight. As a result, the chicks are extremely high in fat so that they can survive the period before they fledge. They also taste strongly of the fish which is their whole diet. A common method of preserving the catch is to keep them in brine making the meat salty. The meat is also very dark. This makes muttonbird - or Titi in Maori - something of an acquired taste.

The Mutton Birds are also a band from New Zealand. The Mutton Birds formed in 1991, consisting of songwriter Don McGlashan, guitarist David Long, drummer Ross Burge and bassist Alan Gregg. The band is popular in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, but largely unknown elsewhere. Their lyrics are fairly dark and thoughtful and frequently funny, with excellent melodies accompanying.


The band currently consists of:
  • Don McGlashan - Vocals, Guitar, Euphonium
  • Tony Fisher - Vocals, Bass Guitar, Keyboards
  • Ross Burge - Drums
  • Chris Sheehan - Lead Guitar
The band's official website is located at http://www.muttonbirds.com/

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