Skip Navigation

Species Search:
FieldGuidesthreatened and/or endangered search resultsthreatened and/or endangered

previous  | next

Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle


enlarge +

Black Guillemot, summer
credit: Brette Soucie USFWS

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

All Images


Get Our Newsletters


Advanced Search

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

Description ADULT SUMMER Has mainly sooty black plumage with striking white patch on wing. ADULT WINTER Has white underparts and mainly white neck with dark streaks down nape. Crown is dark-streaked and has dark-centered gray back feathers and black flight feathers; retains white wing patch. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult, but with more dark streaking on face, neck, and underparts.

Dimensions Length: 13" (33 cm)

Habitat Locally common year-round on rocky coasts in Canada and Greenland; nests under boulders and in rock crevices. Usually feeds in inshore waters at all times.

Observation Tips Common on suitable coasts, but mainly Arctic breeding range renders many areas inaccessible. Usually fairly easy to see on coasts of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia; sometimes visits harbors.

Range New England, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, Alaska

Voice Utters high-pitched whistles when in breeding colonies.

Discussion Rather plump-bodied seabird. Strikingly pied plumage is contrastingly different in summer and winter. Swims well, dives frequently, and flies low over water on rounded wings with whirring wingbeats. All birds have white underwings, red legs, and red inside of mouth (obvious when bird is calling). Sexes are similar.