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Common Murre Identification

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The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    A large, heavy-bodied seabird, similar in shape to a loon (but smaller and shorter necked). It has a long, pointed bill, short tail, and slender, pointed wings.

    Relative Size

    Larger than a Pigeon or Black Guillemot, smaller than a Common Loon.

    Relative Sizecrow sizedcrow-sized

    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 15.0-16.9 in (38-43 cm)
      • Weight: 28.2-39.7 oz (800-1125 g)
      • Wingspan: 25.2-27.9 in (64-71 cm)

Regional Differences

Worldwide, five subspecies are described, three of which occur in North America. Pacific-nesting subspecies include californica, which breeds from California to southern British Columbia; and inornata, which breeds from northern British Columbia to Alaska and eastern Asia. In the Atlantic, the smaller aalge breeds in northeastern North America east to Russia. The other subspecies are albionis (in western Europe and the United Kingdom) and hyperborea (Norway). It's thought that the very different Atlantic and Pacific groups have been separated from one another since the Pleistocene.