BLACK GUILLEMOT

BLACK GUILLEMOT(Cepphus grylle)

The Black Guillemot is a North Atlantic seabird of the alcid family. These are birds that can easily swim underwater as if they would fly, but are clumsy when walking on land. This species looks like a penguin but is not related to it. The adults in the summer are black with a large white patch on the wings. The bill is also black but the legs and feet are red, as well as the gape (mouth lining). In the winter the bird is greyish-white with dark blotches but the bill remains black. It is about 30 cm (12 in.) long.

The English name of this bird appears to refer to the French version – Guillaume – of the name William. The Latin name comes from ancient Greek and refers to a type of water bird of a light color.

This species of seabird feeds on fish and also crustaceans. Although the black guillemot can dive down to 30 meters (100 ft) it usually forages in shallow water, making it more susceptible to marine pollution.

The black guillemot is known to breed on PEI and is considered as fairly common in the summer and fall, but uncommon in spring and winter. Its breeding range includes the northern coasts of Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Western Europe. Black guillemots breed in large colonies on rocky cliffs, and eggs are often simply deposited on the ground. There is egg predation by opportunistic birds such as gulls. This bird is sensitive to human disturbance such as rock climbing and bird watching.

Black guillemots - Elliston, NL - photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson
Black guillemots – Elliston, NL – photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson
Black Guillemots - Orby Head, PEI - June 2, 2013
Black Guillemots – Orby Head, PEI – June 2, 2013 – Roberta Palmer
Black guillemot, immature - Sept-Îles, QC - photo by Cephas
Black guillemot, immature – Sept-Îles, QC – photo by Cephas

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