The North Atlantic Little Shearwater (Puffinus baroli), also known as the Macaronesian Shearwater, is a small shearwater which breeds in the North Atlantic. Two subspecies are recognised, P. b. baroli of Madeira and the Canary Islands and P. b. boydi of the Cape Verde Islands.
Until recently, it was considered conspecific with the Little Shearwater (Puffinus assimilis) of the Southern Hemisphere. mtDNA cytochrome b sequence analysis (Austin et al., 2004) indicates, however, that baroli and boydi are very close to the nominate subspecies of Audubon's Shearwater. Whether the morphological distinctness and the non-overlapping ranges, or the genetic similarity are considered to be more significant is presently a matter of opinion, and the taxonomical status of these birds remains equivocal. Although some institutions (such as BirdLife International) currently retain the forms baroli and boydi within Little Shearwater, this is as a result of inaccurate lumping in the past, and is not supported by modern evidence. The BOU has recently accepted P. baroli as a distinct species (Sangster et al 2005).
The binomial name commemorates the Italian Carlo Barolo.
Features which distinguish the North Atlantic Little Shearwater from the Manx Shearwater and other North Atlantic Puffinus species include the pale face, silvery panel in the upperwings, shorter more rounded wings, and blue feet (McGeehan & Mullarney 1995, Martin & Rowlands 2001).