Razorbills belong to the auk family, along with guillemots and puffins. The razorbill is well-named because the edges of its hooked upper beak are very sharp, enabling it to grasp fish and defend itself against predators.

Razorbills and Humans

The auks, particularly razorbills and guillemots, are the seabirds most seriously affected by oil pollution, probably because they spend more time on the water than gulls or cormorants which feed at sea but return to land to roost. The auks are also more likely to dive when in trouble, so collect more oil on their feathers. Regular oil spillages over the last 30 years or so have probably been gradually decreasing their numbers although recently A BBC on line article of August 2014 says the Razorbills had had a good season and were doing well.

Another problem which has come to light recently is starvation. Razorbills, guillemots and puffins have been dying in their hundreds, unable to find sufficient fish to sustain them through the winter. Overfishing of the North Sea waters by humans is depriving the birds of their natural prey.

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