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Thick-billed Murre


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A common bird of the far northern oceans, the Thick-billed Murre is found in Arctic waters all across the globe. It remains up to the limits of pack ice in winter, using its wings to swim underwater to find its fish and invertebrate prey.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
17.7 in
45 cm
26.5–52.2 oz
750–1481 g
Other Names
  • Brünnich's Murre, Brünnich's Guillemot
  • Guillemot de Brünnich (French)

Cool Facts

  • The Thick-billed Murre is one of the deepest underwater divers of all birds, regularly descending to depths of more than 100 m, and occasionally below 200 m. It can remain submerged for more than three minutes.
  • The Thick-billed Murre does not build a nest, but incubating birds often shift pebbles or other debris, sometimes dropping them close to the site. When cemented by feces, these fragments may help to keep the egg from rolling off ledge if it is dislodged.
  • The oldest recorded Thick-billed Murre was at least 28 years, 8 months old when it was shot in eastern Canada in 2009. It had been banded in Nunavut in 1982.





Fish, crustaceans, 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

Thick-billed Murre are numerous, but are vulnerable to oil spills and gill-netting. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates a continental breeding population of 80 million birds, rates the species a 10 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and lists it as a Species of Moderate Concern. Thick-billed Murre is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. There is little information on population trends.


Range Map Help

Thick-billed Murre Range Map
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