- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Alcidae
A hardy bird with a rich black-and-white plumage and showstopping red legs, Black Guillemots are a highlight of the cold rocky coasts of the North Atlantic and Arctic. These duck-sized seabirds forage close to shore, flapping their small wings to power deep dives for fish and invertebrates near the sea bottom. In winter, most of the black body plumage is replaced by whitish feathering. Some individuals stay close to shore year-round, while others move out to sea or forage amid the pack ice.More ID Info
Find This Bird
The most accessible places to find Black Guillemots are along the rocky coasts of Maine and the Canadian maritime provinces, particularly in spring and summer. These birds forage close to shore, so scan open water for a black bird with white wing patches sitting on the water or flying in a flurry of heavy wingbeats. A few also nest in Alaska, where patient observation sometimes produces one among the many Pigeon Guillemots.
- Arao Aliblanco (Spanish)
- Guillemot à miroir (French)
- Cool Facts
- Most members of the auk family (Alcidae, including auks, murres, puffins, murrelets, and other species) lay just one egg. Guillemots are also members of the auk family, but they lay two eggs.
- The name "guillemot" is French and may be derived from the French “Guillaume,” meaning William.
- The Black Guillemot carries prey crosswise in its bill. Some adults seem to display "handedness" in this respect: they carry their prey with the head consistently on the same side of the bill.
- Black Guillemots are good divers and can stay underwater for more than 2 minutes at a stretch.
- In the food-rich environment of the High Arctic, some Black Guillemot colonies hold 2,000–10,000 pairs.
- The oldest Black Guillemot recorded was at least 27 years old when it was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in Alaska.