Uria lomvia Linnaeus, 1758, Greenland. Four subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Brunnich’s guillemot; French: Guillemot de Brьnnich; German: Dickschnabellumme; Spanish: Asao de Brunnich.
15–17 in (38–43 cm); 28–38 oz (800–1,080 g). Largest living alcid. Blackish head and upperparts; whitish underparts. Black bill is shorter and heavier than U. aalge and has a whitish line along the edge of the upper mandible near the gape.
North American coast from Maine to Baffin Island and the southern half of the Greenland coasts. Also coastlines in northwestern Canada, most of Alaska, the Aleutians, Kamchatka, and northern Japan, plus Arctic islands and the Arctic coast of Norway.
Rocky cliffs and adjoining seas.
Generally a more oceanic bird than the common murre. Their ranges are similar, although the thick-billed tends to stay further north. At sea, they are found in small groups or alone, but they congregate in thousands at established breeding cliff sites.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Fish, especially Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida), comprise most of the diet. A variety of crustaceans are also eaten.
Thick-bills brood in huge rookeries. Brooding is done on bare rock, often on narrow ledges of cliffs, with incubation lasting an average of 32 days. Thick-bills are one of several alcid species in which a replacement egg may be laid if the first is broken or fails to hatch. When the chick is fledged, it follows the male parent out to sea.
Widespread and numerous: at least two million breeding pairs in Iceland alone. No special concern.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
The thick-billed murre is hunted legally in large numbers in Newfoundland.
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