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Ancient Murrelet

Silhouette AuksAuks
Ancient MurreletSynthliboramphus antiquus
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Alcidae

Basic Description

In breeding plumage, the Ancient Murrelet’s black head is crowned with beautiful white plumes reminiscent of the laurel wreaths worn by ancient Greek and Roman statesmen. This tiny seabird is blue-gray above, white below, with a black head and throat. It lives in the cold North Pacific, where it “flies” underwater to capture small fish and invertebrates. It breeds in burrows or crevices on fog-shrouded Pacific islands, in colonies of up to 10,000. The chicks leap into the ocean soon after hatching, and are raised at sea.

More ID Info
image of range map for Ancient Murrelet
Year-roundBreedingMigrationNonbreeding
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Ancient Murrelets feed mostly in offshore waters over the North Pacific continental shelf, out of sight of land. To see one well, it's best to take a pelagic birding trip during the nonbreeding season (during summer they are mostly restricted to the Aleutian Islands). On rare occasions, coastal upwellings bring nutrients and prey close to shore, attracting Ancient Murrelets and allowing them to be studied with a spotting scope.

Other Names

  • Mérgulo Antiguo (Spanish)
  • Guillemot à cou blanc (French)
  • Cool Facts

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