Guillemots - Hebridean Birds
Western Isles Birds - Guillemots - Hebridean Birds Sightings.

These Striking black and white plumaged birds, the guillemots also have have black legs - a slim head and neck and a long slender bill.

This seabird is designed for swimming and diving. These sea birds often rest stood upright. In the Western Isles you can see Guillemots nesting in colonies , on the cliffs.
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Guillemot-  Western Isles
Photo Gallery  - Guillemots
Bird Overview - Guillemots
Latin name
Uria aalge


Similar Species
Little Auk

This bird, the guillemot, is striking black and white plumage - with black legs. It has a long slender unmarked bill - when resting it stands upright and can look somewhat like a "penguin".

The guillemots head back and upper wings are black-brown - whilst its underparts are pure white. Some birds have a white ring around heir black eyes.

In the winter time the front, neck and cheeks turn white - with a black streak behind the eye.

The guillemot's wings are short and narrow and have a thin white bar - on the underside they are white with black plumage on the edges. Its legs and webbed feet are black.

38 - 41cm - The Black Guillemot is smaller than the Guillemot and slightly larger than the Puffin.

The guillemots breeding habitat is rocky shores, steep cliffs and islands - when not breeding they can be seen in the open sea.

The guillemot birds eat fish,crustaceans and molluscs. THe guillemot chases fish underwater and can go down to 100ft below the surface and fly up to 30 miles out for food. They look duck-like when swimming and dive below the surface by kicking their feet and partially spreading their wings. Underwater the wings are used for propulsion and the feet used for steering.

This bird is usually silent but growls when on the nest - a loud whirring sound.
The Courtship takes place in the water - one bird swimming around the other which spins to face it. Guillemots have communal displays, several pairs circling and bobbing or standing up and flapping their wings.

They lay pointed eggs that roll in a circle if disturbed (less likely to fall off a cliff). Guillemots nest in colonies on tall cliffs - on narrow ledges - very high up - very squashed together - up to 20 nests to a square metre. They lay one egg - incubation is up to 38 days. Remarkably each egg is differently marked with unique squiggles and splodges to help them find their own eggs.

Males and females incubate and feed the chick until it is 14 - 25 days old - when although only half grown it leaves the nest. Astonishingly it jumps - they usually land on the sea safely as they are so light - once there the chick finds its male parent and they swim together for a month before the chick goes its own way.

Misc. Info
The guillemots lifespan is 10 - 20 years. The birds winter off southern England, France and Spain. Shortly after leaving the breeding grounds, the guillemots moult, shedding all their flight feathers at once and they cannot fly until a new set grows.
Three Guillemots - Western Isles
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