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Black Guillemot - Cepphus grylle



 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Charadriiformes
 Family: Alcidae
 Genus: Cepphus
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern


Black GuillemotThe black guillemot is a medium-sized sea bird. It has a thin, straight bill and bright red feet. The black guillemot has a different color pattern depending on the season. In the summer, it is all black with large white patches on its wings. In the winter, it is almost all white.


mapA circumpolar species, the black guillemot stays near the Arctic Circle. It is found in the Gulf of Maine and along northern coastal areas as far west as Alaska. In the winter, it can be found as far south as Rhode Island. The black guillemot is also found on the northwest shores of Europe.


Black GuillemotIn the summer, the black guillemot nests in crevices on rocky shores. During this time, it stays close to shore, feeding in shallow water. In the winter, some birds move north and stay close to the pack ice surrounding the Arctic Circle. Others travel farther south towards New England.


Black GuillemotThe black guillemot swims with its wings, diving deeply to capture its prey. It eats many types of fish, which it holds horizontally in its bill. The black guillemot also eats mollusks, jellyfish, crustaceans, sponges, crabs and barnacles. Some scientists have found that the black guillemot feeds more in the morning and evening and less during midday.

Life Cycle

Black GuillemotBreeding in small groups, the black guillemot lays two eggs per year. Eggs are laid between late May and mid-June. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs. After one month of incubation, eggs hatch. Both parents feed the chicks for 30-40 days. After 40 days, chicks fledge and leave the nest for good.


Black GuillemotThe black guillemot can stay underwater for two minutes and can dive to depths of 50 meters!

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org David Farrow cc logo