Thick-billed Murre

General description.

The "Thick-billed Murre" is similar to the Common Murre, but with a shorter and thicker bill. In winter, the face is mainly black with white appearing only on its cheeks and throat. Unlike other "alcids", which are exclusively oceanic, this species can occur on the Great Lakes and other large inland bodies of water, such as Sandy Hook Bay in New Jersey.

Flight pattern.

The "Thick-billed Murre's" flight is strong and direct, and they have fast wing beats due to the short wings, which they use to "swim" underwater.

Breeding habits.

The "Thick-billed Murre" breeds, in large colonies, on Arctic and subarctic coasts to Southern Alaska and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

Calls or song.

This species produces a variety of harsh cackling calls at the breeding colonies, but is silent at sea.

Population and distribution.

Murre eggs are a rich source of food for native peoples, while the birds, themselves, are among the chief prey of Gyrfalcons and Peregrines, resulting in a decline in populations between the 1960s and 1980s. Some scientists believe that climate change may be a threat to this Arctic-breeding species, however the species seems adaptable.

Nesting habits.

The "Thick-billed Murre" nests on rocky coasts, and builds on a narrow ledge, where the female lays just one large bluish-green egg, scrawled with brown.

Similar birds:

Common Murre Photo Common Murre
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