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HomeSpits­ber­gen infor­ma­ti­onWild­life → Black guil­lemot

Black guillemot (Cepphus grylle)

Black guil­lemots. Heley­sund, Spits­ber­gen

Black guillemot

Descrip­ti­on: With a length of 34 cm and a weight of 350-450 g, the Black guil­lemot is a medi­um-sized auk, some­whe­re bet­ween Brünich’s guil­lemots and Litt­le auks in size. They are com­ple­te­ly black, apart from a cha­rac­te­ris­tic white, oval spot on the upper wings, which can easi­ly be seen when the bird is sit­ting on the water. Legs and the insi­de of the beak are red. The sexes look ali­ke.

Distribution/ Migra­ti­ons: The Black guil­lemot has a cir­cum­po­lar dis­tri­bu­ti­on in the high- and sub-Arc­tic. The Sval­bard popu­la­ti­on does not migra­te far, but spends the win­ter near the ice edge in regio­nal waters.

Bio­lo­gy: While sear­ching for food, bree­ding Black guil­lemots stay clo­ser to the coast than other auks. They find their food, which con­sists of small fish and crustace­ans, near the sur­face. Com­pa­red to Com­mon and Brünich’s guil­lemots, the Black guil­lemots are rather unso­cial birds, as they breed in small, loo­se colo­nies in rock crevices, under lar­ge stones and on steep cliffs. Colo­nies lar­ger than 100 bree­ding pairs are the excep­ti­on. It is the only auk that nor­mal­ly lays two eggs, which both par­ents incu­ba­te for about four weeks. The chicks can fly after 30 to 40 days and are then immedia­te­ly inde­pen­dent.

Mis­cel­la­ne­ous: The popu­la­ti­on in Sval­bard num­bers around 20,000 bree­ding pairs and they are a com­mon sight. The Black guil­lemot is hun­ted to a limi­ted degree in Spits­ber­gen. When sit­ting on the water, it can dive quick­ly and will usual­ly do so at exact­ly the moment when you press the trig­ger of your came­ra.

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last modification: 2014-10-27 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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