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Common Murre - BirdForum Opus

Alternative name: Common Guillemot.

Breeding plumage including "bridled" morph
Photo © by Dafi
Copansay, Orkney, UK, 20 June 2006
Uria aalge


Length: 17.5" (44.5cm); Wingspan 26" (66cm.)
A large alcid, relatively more slender than others in this family. Pacific birds average larger than Atlantic birds.
Adult breeding birds have brown-black upperparts and throat, white underparts, long dark bill, short tail. On first-year and non-breeding birds, the throat is white, which extends to the back of the neck. A thin dark line extends from the eye down behind the cheek. Long straight bill that appears pointed upward with the birds usual posture in the water.
The "bridled" form has a white lining around the eye.

Photo © by Copout
Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire, UK, 11 May 2009

Similar Species

Quite similar to the Thick-billed Murre, which is also genus Uria. The bill of Uria aalge is longer and straighter.


Northern Palearctic, coastal northern North America. Accidental vagrant inland.


Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Half Moon Bay, California, USA, 30 August 2020


This is a polytypic species, consisting of four currently recognized subspecies[1]:

  • U. a. aalge:
  • U. a. albionis:
  • U. a. inornata:
  • U. a. californica:

Additional subspecies U. a. hyperborea and U. a. ibericus not recognised by all authorities[2]


Rocky coasts.



The diet includes fish and invertebrates.


They breed in colonies. The single egg is incubated for 30 days, on bare rock.


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  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Lepage D. (2020) Common_Murre in Avibase - The World Bird Database. Retrieved 1 September 2020
  3. Ainley, D. G., D. N. Nettleship, H. R. Carter, and A. E. Storey (2020). Common Murre (Uria aalge), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.commur.01
  4. Whatbird

Recommended Citation

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