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Common Murre Uria aalge


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Common Murres, summer
credit: Anne Morkill

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Alcidae, Auks, Murres, Puffins view all from this family

Description ADULT SUMMER Has dark chocolate-brown head and upperparts, including upper wings (darker in northern birds than southern ones), and white underparts. Some birds ("Bridled Murres") have a white "spectacle" around eye. Bill is dark, daggerlike and straight in all birds. ADULT WINTER Similar, but with more white on head: white cheeks and throat separated by black line running back from eye. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult, but with more extensive streaking on head and neck.

Dimensions Length: 17" (43 cm)

Habitat Locally numerous member of selected seabird colonies, nesting on precipitous cliff ledges. Entirely pelagic outside breeding season.

Observation Tips Easy to see, May-Jul, at selected breeding colonies on northeastern Canadian coast. Cape St. Mary's and Baccalieu Island are hotspots.

Range California, Eastern Canada, Northwest, Western Canada, Alaska, Mid-Atlantic, New England

Voice Utters nasal, growling har-rrrhr calls at breeding colonies.

Discussion Stoutly built seabird. Nests in dense colonies on sea-cliff ledges. When not nesting, spends entire life at sea; swims well and dives frequently. Flies on whirring wingbeats; like other alcids, wings are also used when swimmingóit "flies" underwater. Sexes are similar.