Black guillemot

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Black guillemot
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle.jpg
Black guillemot resting on a cliff in Reykjanes, Iceland
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Suborder: Lari
Family: Alcidae
Genus: Cepphus
Species: C. grylle
Binomial name
Cepphus grylle
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The black guillemot or tystie (Cepphus grylle) is a medium-sized alcid.

Adult birds have black bodies with a white wing patch, a thin dark bill, and red legs and feet. They show white wing linings in flight. In winter, the upperparts are pale grey and the underparts are white. The wings remain black with the large white patch on the inner wing. They are 32–38 cm in length, and with a 49–58 cm wingspan.

Flying in Scotland

Their breeding habitat is rocky shores, cliffs and islands on northern Atlantic coasts in eastern North America as far south as Maine, and in western Europe as far south as Ireland.They are one of the few birds to breed on Surtsey, Iceland a new volcanic island. In the UK it is a fairly common breeding bird in western and northern Scotland and Northern Ireland. In the rest of Great Britain they only breed at St. Bees Head in Cumbria, the Isle of Man and on east Anglesey in north Wales. Some birds breed in Alaska where their range overlaps with the pigeon guillemot. They usually lay their eggs in rocky sites near water.

These birds often overwinter in their breeding areas, moving to open waters if necessary, but usually not migrating very far south.

They dive for food from the surface, swimming underwater. They mainly eat fish and crustaceans, also some mollusks, insects and plant material.

The call in the breeding season is a high whistle. The red gape is also prominent then.

Showing red gape
Winter plumage off the coast of Maine

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Leonard, K. 2008. Black Guillemots on the Copeland Islands in 2008. Annual Report for 2008. Copeland Bird Observatory. p. 50.