Guillemot

Scientific name: Uria aalge

Did you know: Guillemots are unique for laying pyriform (pear-shaped) eggs, which remarkably don’t roll off their cliffside nests but instead spin around their own axis!

What Do Guillemots Look Like? (how to identify them)

The Guillemot, a member of the auk species, is a distinctive seabird known for its summer breeding on land. It’s slightly bigger than the razorbill and sports a brown head and upper body with a contrasting white lower body. 

In good light, you can discern its brown colouring, which often appears black from a distance. Notably, its head, neck, and long, slender black bill blend smoothly, and its short tail leaves its feet protruding in flight.

Differences Between Male And Female Guillemots

Males and females are similar in appearance, making it a challenge to distinguish them in the wild. Both genders share the characteristic brown and white plumage and sleek black bill, with subtle size differences.

What Do Guillemots Eat?

The Guillemot’s diet is rich and varied, encompassing a range of fish, marine worms, crustaceans, and squid. Remarkably agile underwater, they dive from the surface of the sea, and use their wings to swim in pursuit of prey, often diving to impressive depths.

Where Do Guillemots Live? (inc. migration info)

Guillemots are commonly found along the Scottish coasts, often in areas with  sea stacks, rocky cliffs, and offshore islands. They breed predominantly in the north and west, with significant colonies in Handa, Shetland, Orkney, and scattered along the East coast. While many spend winters at sea, some remain close to their breeding colonies all year round.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Guillemots)

The Guillemot colonies are known for their deep, murmuring sounds, an ensemble of calls that resonate across their habitat. Their distinctive vocalisations play a crucial role in communication, especially during the breeding season.

Fun Guillemot Facts (kid friendly)

  • Guillemots can dive over 30 metres deep to catch their food!
  • They lay unique pear-shaped eggs that don’t roll off cliffs but spin on the spot.
  • Guillemots can reach flying speeds of nearly 50 mph.
  • They’re the most common auk in the British Isles.
  • Young Guillemots take a daring leap from cliffs to the sea before they can fly.
  • These birds are known for their strong territorial instincts, even in tight nesting spaces.
  • Guillemots have a special ‘bridled’ form with a white ring around their eye and a stripe behind it in their summer plumage.
  • They form large, noisy colonies on cliffs during breeding season.
  • Guillemots are excellent swimmers, using their wings to propel underwater.
  • They return to the same nesting sites year after year, showing remarkable site fidelity.

Guillemot Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile

Facts About The Guillemot

Diet: Fish and crustaceans
Bird Family: Auks
Length: 38-45cm
Wingspan: 64-73cm
Weight: 850-1,130 g
Scientific Name: Uria aalge

The Guillemot Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December