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Common Murre


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

An abundant, penguin-like bird of the cooler northern oceans, the Common Murre nests along rocky cliffs and spends its winter at sea.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
15–16.9 in
38–43 cm
25.2–28 in
64–71 cm
28.2–39.7 oz
800–1125 g
Other Names
  • Atlantic Murre, Guillemot (British)
  • Guillemot marmette (French)
  • Arao común (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • In the Atlantic, some populations include "bridled" or "ringed" individuals, which have a white eye-ring and a white line extending backward from the eyes. Bridled birds are more common farther north.
  • The high degree of variation in color and markings of Common Murre eggs may allow parent murres to recognize their own egg when they return to the colony from time at sea.
  • The egg of a Common Murre is so pointed at one end that when placed on a flat surface and pushed, it rolls around in a circle. Such a shape may help keep the egg from rolling off of its nesting shelf.
  • The oldest recorded Common Murre was at least 27 years, 1 month old, when it was spotted in the wild in California in 2009; the same state where it had been banded in 1985.





Fish, squid and other marine invertebrates.


Nesting Facts
Egg Description
Very pointed at one end. Color variable, ranging from white to tan without markings, to dark green or turquoise with extensive black spots and scrawls.
Condition at Hatching
Covered in down, able to stand within one day.
Nest Description

Shallow depression in rocky ledge on steep cliff. Nests in colonies.

Nest Placement



Surface Dive

Dives underwater to capture prey, using its wings to swim.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Common Murre are numerous, but vulnerable to oil spills and gill-netting. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a population of 4,250,000 in North America, rates the species an 11 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and lists it as a Species of Moderate Concern. They are not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. Pacific populations have declined and partially recovered, while Atlantic populations appear to be increasing.


Range Map Help

Common Murre Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings


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