- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Alcidae
The Pigeon Guillemot is an attractive auk that nests on rocky coastlines of the North Pacific. Its velvety, dark brown plumage is set off by a bright white patch in the upperwing and vivid scarlet feet. In winter, the black underparts are replaced with dingy white feathering. Unlike many other species of alcids (auks, murrelets, and puffins), which feed far out to sea, Pigeon Guillemots stay fairly close to shore where they forage along the seafloor for small fish, worms, and crustaceans.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for Pigeon Guillemots along Pacific shores from Alaska to California, particularly in the breeding season when the birds nest along cliffs and forage close to shore. Find a calm, rocky cove or wharf and scan the water (ideally with a spotting scope). Listen for the birds’ shrill whistles and watch for their high-contrast white wing patches and bright red feet trailing behind them as they fly. Pigeon Guillemots often occur in populated areas such as around Seattle’s ferry docks or along rocky parts of Monterey Bay, California.
- Arao Colombino (Spanish)
- Guillemot colombin (French)
- Cool Facts
- The Pigeon Guillemot and the smaller Black Guillemot, which occurs mainly in the Atlantic and Arctic, were once considered to be a single species. Although closely related, they have different vocalizations, plumages, and natural histories.
- Unlike puffins, which may carry dozens of fish back to their young per trip, guillemots usually bring just one at a time. They use their long, slender tongues to press fish and other prey into sharp serrations (called palatal denticles) in the upper jaw.
- Male Pigeon Guillemots court females by marching in circles around them and showing off their red feet.
- The Pigeon Guillemot feeds in shallower waters than most auks, puffins, or murrelets. Although it can dive deeper than 45 meters (148 feet), it feeds mainly in waters only 10–20 meters (33–66 feet) deep.
- To scale vertical rock faces, the Pigeon Guillemot flaps its wings vigorously to stay somewhat airborne and uses its sharp claws and webbed feet to climb.
- The oldest recorded Pigeon Guillemot was at least 17 years, 1 month old when it was recaptured during banding operations in Washington.