Uria aalge Pontoppidan, 1763, Iceland. Five subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Atlantic murre, common guillemot, thin-billed murre; French: Guillemot marmette; German: Trottellumme; Spanish: Arao Comъn.
15–17 in (38–43 cm); 33.5–37 oz (950–1,050 g). Black to brownish head and upperparts; white underparts. Black bill is long, slender, and pointed; mouth lining is yellow.
North American coast from New England northward to Labrador, central California to northern Alaska, and from Siberia as far south as Japan and Korea.
Rocky coastlines and adjoining seas.
Pelagic. Rarely comes ashore except to breed. Common murres are fast fliers and sometimes travel in large flocks. Their most common vocalization has been described as purring.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Primarily fish; less commonly consumes a variety of marine invertebrates.
Breeds in large colonies, often with other species. Courtship and copulation take place on land. A single egg is laid on bare rock. The egg is marked with a distinct pattern so the parents can recognize it; a common murre will find and retrieve its own egg if the egg rolls away. Incubation takes 32–35 days. The chick is fledged at 20–22 days after hatching and follows the male parent out to sea to complete the period of parental care.
Widespread and numerous. Concern in some areas due to hunting and habitat degradation.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
The common murre is hunted legally in large numbers in Newfoundland.
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