The Guillemot is penguin-like in appearance; slim, pointed bill, dark brown head and upperparts, white underparts.

Overview

Distribution: In Europe it is found on the coasts of Scandinavia, the British Isles and Brittany and elsewhere in Iceland, Alaska, Newfoundland and one spot on the coast of Greenland. Breeds as far south as Portugal in the Atlantic and North Korea and San Francisco in the Pacific.

Description: Penguin-like in appearance; slim, pointed bill, dark brown head and upperparts, white underparts. Lower face is white in the winter. Some birds are 'bridled', having a white line behind the eye & a white eye-ring when in breeding plumage.

Habitat: Open sea, cliff ledges, offshore rock pillars. Size: 42cm in height. Sexes are alike. Food: fish, mainly sprats, also crustaceans, worms and molluscs.

Standing upright on a rock ledge, with its white underparts showing and paddle-like feet sticking out in front, the guillemot is the nearest thing Britain has to a penguin! Another similarity is the way in which the breeding birds crowd together in huge colonies. It belongs to the auk family and is therefore closely related to the razorbill and puffin.

Feeding: Guillemots fish in the open sea, usually alone or in small groups, during autumn and winter. They look rather duck-like when swimming and they 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. Fish such as sand eels and sprats make up the major part of their diet. Shrimps, prawns, crabs, molluscs and worms are also eaten, when closer inshore.

Read More: Breeding

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