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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Ancient Murrelet


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Widespread throughout the north Pacific, the Ancient Murrelet nests colonially in burrows or rock crevices. It is the only seabird that raises its young entirely at sea.

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Typical Voice

Adult Description

Small plump waterbird. Black face and crown. Gray upperparts. White sides of neck, throat, and underparts. Short, pale yellow bill.

Immature Description

Resembles nonbreeding adult, with little or no white feathers around crown, and a darker bill.

Range Map Help

Ancient Murrelet Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  • Breeding adult

    Ancient Murrelet

    Breeding adult
    • © Chris Wood, Alaska, June 2004
  • Breeding adults

    Ancient Murrelet

    Breeding adults
    • © Chris Wood, Alaska, June 2004
  • Nonbreeding adult

    Ancient Murrelet

    Nonbreeding adult
    • © Tom Auer, Tahquemenon River Mouth, Michigan, October 2006

Similar Species

  • No other alcid has a small yellow bill.
  • Nonbreeding Marbled Murrelet somewhat similar, but has dark bill and white flanks and sides of rump visible in flight (gray in Ancient Murrelet).