Black Guillemots

The Black Guillemot is a lively member of the bird life on Eastern Egg Rock.

The Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle) is a lively member of the bird life on Eastern Egg Rock. The pigeon-sized Guillemots dance atop the big boulders and nest in burrows among the rocks.

The one in the picture has a fish called a Sand Eel that it is going to feed its young. Guillemots eat all kinds of animals from the sea, including crustaceans (crabs and shrimp), mollusks (clams and snails), and worms. They can dive to 165 feet deep!

Black Guilemots are mostly black with a bold white wing patch. Their feet and inside of their mouths are red. In winter, guillemots molt to become mostly white and gray.

Black Guilemots lay 1-2 eggs each year in their rocky burrows. They incubate the eggs for about four weeks and then feed the young for about five weeks until they fledge. Just recently Black Guillemots also nested on Stratton Island, another site where Project Puffin does research. At the left is a picture of the first two guillemot chicks.

The Black Guillemot is an Alcid, or member of the Auk family. Other members include Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, and Murre. Of this group, the Guillemot favors inshore areas and frequents the mainland seaside.

Black Guillemots are found from the Arctic Circle south to Northern New England. In the Pacific Ocean, a related species called the Pigeon Guillemot replaces the Black Guilemot. It is very similar in appearance but has a black line in the white wing patch and the undersides of its wings are dark gray, not white like the Black Guillemots.

Listen to the Black Guillemot HERE and HERE.

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