Common Murre or Common Guillemot
A Common Murre is a large auk, which is also known with the names Common Guillemot and Thin-billed Murre. They are found in the low-Arctic and boreal waters of North Pacific and North-Atlantic. Common murres spend lot of their time at sea, returning to land on islands or on rocky cliff shores for breeding only.
They have a direct and fast flight. They can dive into water up to the depth of 30-60 m (100-200 ft. However the highest depth of 180 m (600 ft) has been recorded. Common Guillemots are colonial birds, which breeds in colonies with high densities. The nesting pair may be in bodily contact with its neighbors. Common Guillemots do not build any nest, instead the lays the egg on a bare rock. They incubate the egg for 30 days.
The chick has born downy. The chick learns to regulate body temperature after 10 days. It leaves its nesting place within 20 days along with parents. It can fly immediately after leaving the nest, but can dive into water as soon as they hit the water. The female bide lives at the nest for around 14 day after the chick has left. After breeding the parent birds moult, while become flightless for 1-2 months.
In the breeding season, the bird has black head, back and wings, while has white color below. They have thin dark pointed bill and also a small rounded dark tail. Both the sexes of Common Guillemots look similar. After the pre-basic moult, they have white face and dark spur behind their eye. However, its subspecies U. a. albionis have dark brown color than black. They are found mostly in southern Britain colonies. They have dark grey bill and grey legs. But seldom are the adults seen with yellow/grey legs and a bright yellow bill.
The size of common guillemots ranges in length from 38 to 46 cm (15-18 in), while it has 61 to 73 cm (24-29 in) of wingspan. Their weight ranges from 945 g (2 lb) in south to 1044 g (2.3 lb) in the north.
Some birds are called as 'bridled guillemots' in the North Atlantic. They have a white ring around the eye and the white line extending to back. However its conspecific Brünnich's Guillemot has a white bill stripe. This distinction in both the species helps to recognize them individually.
Common Guillemot makes fast beats while flying. It flies at the speed of 50 mi/hr (80 km/h). However there flight is not agile and also there is difficulty in take-off. They have often seen flying in group just above the water surface. After moulting they become flightless for 45 to 60 days. Common Guillemot dives underwater for searching their food. They can swim underwater for distances of over 50 m (160 ft) with the help of their wings.
The Common Guillemot primarily lives on eating the small schooling fishes. Such fishes include the sand lances, polar cod, sandeels, capelin, sprats, Atlantic herring, and Atlantic cod. Sand lances and capelin are its favourite food, but it also eats squid, crustaceans, molluscs and worms. Its prey mainly depends on what is available in quantity.